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Philippine court overturns ban on gay political party

Amnesty International has welcomed a decision by the Supreme Court of the Philippines to overturn the ban on a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) political party, allowing it to contest in next month’s national elections for the first time.The Commission on Elections in the Philippines had initially refused to recognize Ang Ladlad (in English: Coming Out) as an official political party last November because in the Commission’s view the party  tolerated "immorality" and offended both Christians and Muslims.Ang Ladlad filed an appeal against the decision with the Supreme Court of the Philippines in January. In a unanimous decision on 8 April, the Court overruled the Elections Commission.The Court stated that Ang Ladlad had complied with all legal requirements for accreditation and that there is no law in the Philippines against homosexuality."This is a significant development and sends a positive message about the ability of LGBT individuals and groups to engage in political and social activities without discrimination.  This landmark decision is a progressive step towards full respect for and protection of the rights of LGBT people in the Philippines," said Hazel Galang of Amnesty InternationalThe elections are scheduled for 10 May.Ang Ladlad is one of more than 100 parties seeking to win 50 of the 286 seats in the House of Representatives allocated for marginalized sectors.Among those to be allocated seats in the last few years are parties representing the rights of women, the urban poor, peasants and Muslim minority groups.