Manny Pacquiao’s homophobic comments revived attention to an issue that’s been swept under the rug in Filipino culture. Without going deep on religion’s place in politics, and morality, I would like to approach this topic through economics.
The possibility that sponsors would cut ties with Pacquiao has recently happened (Nike) which could end his career, specially in the US where it’s now legal for LGBT people to marry. However, as a politician, Pacquiao will win the senate seat due to his popularity, even though his performance as a representative was very poor, to say the least.
A good majority of Filipino politicians are deeply religious with homophobic tendencies. This may go well with the majority of Filipinos, but let’s consider the country’s role in a globalized economy.
As an example, the US state of Indiana enacted a state law that discriminates against LGBT people in the guise of religious freedom. As a response, major companies pulled out of Indiana and took hundreds of jobs with them. With major tech companies like Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Apple (Apple CEO Tim Cook is openly gay) who are big supporters of LGBT rights – with corporate policies that promote equal treatment of LGBT employees, is homophobia good for the Philippine economy?
It’s one thing to be religious and to admire religious politicians; but often, deeply religious politicians create laws that infringe on people’s rights. We need politicians that treat every Filipino equally, as guaranteed by international laws and the Philippine Constitution, no matter what their personal bias is. We also need to hold them accountable when they say damaging words that could potentially make the country seem unfriendly to international companies.
Homophobia doesn’t have a place in the modern world. It’s either we adapt, or we fall behind.
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