Iloilo school's rule on homosexuality draws criticism from several groupsBy JOVILAND RITA,GMA News
Iloilo Catholic school's inclusion of homosexuality as a ground for expulsion, as stated in its handbooks for students and employees, has drawn criticism from concerned groups.
Assumption school Iloilo included homosexuality under the definition of "immorality" in its employee's and learner's Handbooks, which is also reflected in the institution's employment contracts and student enrollment forms.
Assumption Iloilo defines immorality as, “acts that are contrary to the Catholic morals, teaching and values as defined, described and/or discussed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, including but not limited to fornication, pornography, prostitution, engaging in premarital sexual relations, rape, homosexuality, adultery, incest, sexual, abuse, 'free union', 'trial marriages', ‘live-in arrangements' and unions outside marriages as provided and discussed in Sections 2353, 2370, 2380-81, 2388-91 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which, by reference, is made integral to this manual.”
“Immorality is considered a grave offense sanction able by dropping from the rolls following due process."
On Friday, some 80 different groups signed a joint statement asking Assumption Iloilo to scrap the ‘illegal’ provision on immorality that includes homosexuality.
They said the policy is already a violation to the Iloilo City Anti-Discrimination Ordinance No. 2018-090. Under the Section III, it states that the violation is committed:
“By refusing or failing to accept any person for admission as a student in any public or private education and/or vocational institution, or by subjecting said student to terms and conditions such as suspension or expulsion in the said institution which are not imposed on applicants or students similarly circumstanced as him, or limiting the access of the student to any benefit or privilege provided by said institution, by reason of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation…”
Aside from this, the groups said the policy is conflicting with the Department of Education Order No. 40-2012 (j) or the DepEd Child Protection Policy which defines:
“Discrimination against children to refer to act of exclusion, distinction, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as age, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity…”
Also, the groups pointed out the Section 3 of Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women (MCW):
“All individuals are equal as human beings by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person. No one should therefore suffer discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, language, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, political or other opinion, national, social or geographical origin, disability, property, birth, or other status as established by human rights standards.”
On Friday, LGBTQI rights advocate UP Babaylan urged the school to retract their enrollment contract defining homosexuality as an immoral act and as one of the grounds for expulsion.
“Time and time again, bigots have used religion to justify hate against people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC),” the group said.
“But it’s time that we recognize it for what it is: not an affirmation, but a perversion of the very scriptures they cite that preach love and acceptance,” it added.
UP Babaylan also urged the Assumption Iloilo and other Catholic schools should follow the lead of the Pope in understanding and accepting the LGBTQI community.
“After all, their bible tells us to ‘love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law’,” the group added citing Romans 13:8 from the Bible.
In a statement on Saturday, Assumption Iloilo denied that they are discriminating against the LGBTQIA community through the policy.
It said the school policy was based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), which also promotes acceptance with the "homosexual condition."
“Section 2358 of the CCC expressly provides that the homosexual condition ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity’ and every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” it said.
“As 2358 of the CCC is integral to the definition of immorality, there is no intent nor was there ever an intent to discriminate against homosexuals as represented in social media,” it added.
Assumption Iloilo pointed out that it aims to sanction the ‘acts’ of sexual misconduct from the viewpoint of a Catholic institution regardless of the orientation of a person.
“The definition does not sanction the condition or orientation of a person,” it said
“As a Catholic institution, Assumption Iloilo is within its rights to adopt a definition of what constitutes immorality in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” it added.
In a statement on Saturday, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed grave concern over the adoption of Assumption Iloilo of rules defining immorality, which include homosexuality.
"Assumption Iloilo, in adopting a definition of immorality that includes homosexuality, is complicit in discriminating children of diverse SOGIESC and runs counter to the notion that schools are safe spaces," CHR said.
As a Christ-centered educational community, CHR said the school has the moral responsibility to provide a more equal and accepting safe space for all students, regardless of gender expression and sexual orientation.
"In insisting on this discriminatory policy, and even in clarifying that they ‘pertain to acts’ and not the individuals, the institution remains complicit in the creation of threatening spaces for children of SOGIESC," CHR said.
"This impact student’s right to education, and risks their mental health and well being by being stigmatized and discriminated against by the institution meant to protect them," it added. —LBG, GMA News