The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines
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27 September 1998

We're Here, We're Queer, We Should Dump Mahathir!

The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (PROGAY-Philippines) condemns the fascist regime of Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for fanning anti-gay hatred in his attacks against Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim.

  Once again, the multitudes of peace-loving gay men, bisexuals, lesbians and transgenders in Asia and elsewhere are being slandered by both old and modern fundamentalist extremes. The Malaysian  community of sexual minorities is crushed between the malevolent mixture of misplaced nationalist and religious fanatacism on one hand and on the other hand, the even more harmful fundamentalism of imperialist economic dogma now destroying the patrimonies of East Asia. 

  Filipino gay men are deeply concerned with our Malaysian siblings because we share a common Malayan heritage of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles that were brutally suppressed by puppet regimes backed by US, British, Japanese and other imperialist military forces. We share the same hardships of opposing governments that attacked the masses of workers and farmers when these regimes imposed the cruel trade liberalization policies of the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade - World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

  All throughout the region, Dr. Mohamad, his racist-authoritarian partymates and fascist friends Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore, Suharto of Indonesia, Chiang Kai Chiek of Taiwan and the military regimes of South Korea imposed on their citizens ambitious programs of shallow industrialization based on export-orientation and import-substitution. Dangling promises of development and increased incomes, these strongman regimes committed massive human rights violations against poor workers, peasants, women and students demanding more democratic redistribution of resources.

  We remember with indignation the mass murders of workers in Kwangju, the massacres of peasants in the cities of Manila and Bacolod, the bloody coup in Jakarta, the marginalization of forest dwellers in Sarawak and many other atrocities that are not addressed until this day. We shudder at the trend of racial and anti-gay hatred appearing elsewhere in the region such as the One Nation Party in Australia.

  Alas, these so-called economic miracles benefitted only the oligarchy and their foreign backers in each country while wages and jobs continued to drop, farmers went bankrupt from the flood of cheap agricultural imports and millions of migrants were forced to slave overseas just to prop up their corrupt governments. The doctrines inspired by the IMF and the full financial deregulation that the Asian dictators foolishly adopted despite popular protests have now caused the final destruction of the tiger economies.

  With his dream of converting Malaysians into materialistic robots now becoming a nightmare in the face of massive civil protests, Mahathir wants desperately to divert the people's brewing discontent on to Mr. Anwar's supposed bisexuality. This crude attempt to generate anti-gay hatred has only served to further Mahathir's political isolation.

  Progay also denounces Mahathir's hypocritical preference for Japanese hegemony in Asia over US hegemony as a throwback to the days of the Greater Eastern Co-Prosperity Zone where imperial Japan lorded over puppet Asian regimes in killing and exploiting Asian citizens. The prime minister's miscalculations are rightfully giving prestige to the militant citizens' movement working for the genuine liberation of Malaysia that goes way beyond the Mahathir's opportunistic patriotism.

  We demand that Dr. Mahathir and his cronies renounce their anti-gay machinations, issue an apology to all sexual minorities and victims of economic and political rights in Malaysia, release all political prisoners, repeal the Internal Security Act, order the military and police back to the barracks and dismantle the police state, then simultaneously resign.

  We Filipino gays and other citizens warmly salute all the democratic forces in Malaysia which have rejected and denounced the unfair witchhunting and gaybaiting tactics wielded by the authorities against the political rights not only of Mr. Anwar but also of all the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. We ask that you maintain the vigil until a fully just and democratic society is realized in Malaysia.

  We call on the Malaysians everywhere to intensify their support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people and deepen their understanding of the imperialist globalization that is really to blame for the problems being faced by the regional economy.

  We call on the democratic and anti-imperialist forces from around the world to join the Malaysian democratic forces in the Asia-Pacific Peoples Assembly in November this year to resist the growing fascism of the Mahathir regime and expose and oppose the official ministerial meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In the face of Mahathir's increasing use of violence, homophobia and misinformation, we call on the people everywhere to boycott products and services of Malaysian state corporations.

  We are gay and proud, and together with the basic masses of Australasia, Africa, the Americas and Europe, we will continue to fight for meaningful social changes even as we promote human rights in action for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered peoples.###


The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (PROGAY-Philippines) today questioned the basis of President Joseph Estrada's invoking of the "universality of human rights" in batting for the fair treatment of the ousted Malaysian deputy prime minister  Anwar Ibrahim.   

"If Estrada has indeed professed that human rights are universal, he apparently believes does not apply in his own country when he forced beleaguered workers of the Philippine Airlines to surrender to the privilege of capitalist Lucio Tan to amass huge profits," said Oscar Atadero, secretary-general of Progay. 

  Progay has earlier called for the immediate dismissal of charges of sexual misconduct concocted by the Mahathir regime and the freeing and restitution not only of Anwar but all political prisoners trapped by the Internal Security Act since it was first enacted 1957. "If Anwar is guilty of conspiring with Western interests to undermine the economic stability of Malaysia, it is only proper to investigate that angle and not use gaybaiting to blacken his reputation," he said.

  The gay rights group also said the Philippine and Indonesian governments do not have the moral high ground in considering a boycott of the APEC meet, since president Estrada is reviving Marcos-era authoritarian measures that puts him at par with the national security state of Malaysia's ruling regime, while Habibie still rules by military force. Progay pointed out Estrada' proposed strike moratorium and Malacañang's efforts to revive the Anti-Terrorist Bill, the National ID system and proposed emergency powers for the palace to deal with the financial crisis. 

  In other developments, Progay hailed the poor showing of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party in last week's Australian elections, judging it a tactical victory for the struggle against racism and right-wing demagoguery. But the militant gays also urged peace-loving peoples in the East Asian region to keep up the vigil against rising forces of conservative and fascist sentiments that allow governments to justify removing basic democratic rights.###

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