LET ‘S keep our heads and our perspectives straight in looking at the big controversy between boxing idol Manny Pacquiao and the justifiably incensed and aggrieved members of our gay community.
Let’s not allow our personal feelings about sexual orientation to distort our perception of what this row is all about.
Letting emotions and prejudices rule the public conversation is the surest way to muddle the issues, make the situation worse than it is, and prevent a speedy settlement of the public misunderstanding.
As a first step, let us all be clear about what ignited this controversy and deal with it. What ignited this were the misguided remarks of Manny which went over the top by labeling homosexuals as worse than animals.
Up to a point, he was only expressing his personal beliefs and opinion, which he has a perfect right to do by reason of free speech.
Equally, leading members of our gay community and citizens offended by Manny’s rant have the perfect right to condemn Manny for hate speech, and to call for action against him.
At this stage, it’s only a clash of viewpoints.
The second step is to recognize that at this stage the controversy is not about same-sex marriage. This issue is not the subject of contention, although many may have jumped the gun by assuming that it is.
Same-sex marriage is not yet on the table. No bill has been filed in Congress for the legalization of same-sex marriage, as has already happened in the United States and other countries. Our legislators have nothing yet to discuss and debate about. Indeed, there will be no Congress until the May elections elect a new legislature.
So there’s no cause for people to be alarmed that a radical change of our marriage laws is at hand.
There’s no reason for members of our gay community to already start preparing for their nuptials. Such static only grates on the nerves of homophobes and the public.
As a third step, it is well to remember that in situations where deep-seated prejudices are aroused, regrettable consequences can result. The personal and civil rights of people can be violated. And the authority of government can be abused and perverted in a way that could oppress numerically inferior minorities.
Reason must prevail in resolving this row.
Dialogue and enlightened discussion are imperative, so it is commendable that Manny and some gay community leaders have engaged in discussion.
The media and responsible members of government can do a lot in promoting public understanding, by telling our people to ever bear in mind the following truths:
1. The rights of every citizen, including gay citizens, are fundamental. We are all entitled to respect within society and the protection of our laws;
2. The state of human and scientific knowledge today about homosecxuality and other sexual orientations has greatly advanced over the past century; and
3. Humane laws have evolved to accord better treatment and more recognition to the so-called LGBT community today.
Finally, in light of this controversy, this may be an opportune time for our society to acknowledge publicly the important contribution that gay people have made to our society and the nation. Across the years, exceptional members of the community have enriched our common life and the national culture. And they include some of our most celebrated artists and writers.