Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: August 10, 2020 06:04 AM GMT
LGBTQ+ groups join a gay pride march in Manila in this file photo. (Photo: Jhun Dantes)
A Catholic college in Iloilo in the Philippines’ Western Visayas region has come under fire over its enrollment and recruitment policy that prohibits homosexuality among students and staff.
Assumption College-Iloilo campus cites in its employment contract and enrollment forms a provision in its handbooks saying homosexuality is immoral and a ground for expulsion of students and the firing of staff.
“Immorality, which refers to acts that are contrary to Catholic morals, teachings and values as defined, described and/or discussed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, including but not limited to … homosexuality ... is considered a grave offense sanctionable by dropping from the rolls after due process,” the college's employees' and learners' handbooks state.
More than 80 LGBTQ+ groups have released a joint statement saying the college’s stance runs contrary to the country’s anti-discrimination laws.
“We [homosexuals] are not immoral. When an educational institution values its name and reputation over upholding the lives and dignity of its students, it shows that it upholds bigotry instead of justice, hate instead of compassion,” the statement said.
The groups also said they had heard stories of “discrimination against people with diverse sexual orientations” coming from Assumption College students.
“The conforme [enrollment contract] is now proof of the standing policy of the institution on homosexuality. It is hypocritical to propose measures on immorality in an institution while blatantly disallowing the existence of persons of diverse SOGIESC (sexual orientations, gender identities, expressions and sexual characteristics) and denying their right to education,” the statement said.
The groups also said that discrimination is immoral and that the policy violated anti-discrimination laws that promoted acceptance and ensured a culture free from homophobia and other forms of exclusion.
“If we are committed to pursuing the highest standards of education for our students, then we must recognize that creating a safe, non-discriminatory and gender-sensitive environment is a critical foundation for this standard,” the groups added.
The Religious of the Assumption congregation has released a statement defending the school’s stance on immorality.
“The definition [of immortality citing homosexuality] has invited harsh criticism and charges of discrimination against homosexuals leveled by Assumption Iloilo. Nothing can be farther from the truth,” said the congregation in a statement.
“A reading of the definition readily shows the definition of ‘immorality’ adopted by Assumption Iloilo refers to and is grounded on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. [It] 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’,” the congregation added.
The congregation also clarified that “immorality” referred to the “acts,” not the “condition” or the “orientation” of the person.
“The definition sanctions ‘acts’ of constituting sexual misconduct from the viewpoint of the Catholic institution regardless of the condition or orientation of a person. The definition does not sanction the condition and orientation of a person,” said the congregation.