A Catholic school in the Philippines has been heavily criticized for a policy that classifies homosexuality as immoral. Several LGBTQ groups have combined their advocacy efforts to counter the school’s discriminatory position.
As reported by the UCA News, Assumption College Iloilo, located in the western region of the Philippines, specifies that homosexuality is immoral in its employment contracts and official handbook. Infractions of this clause can lead to termination of employment and student expulsion from campus.
Assumption College Iloilo’s handbook describes the policy:
“‘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.”
Over 80 LGBTQ groups have voiced their strong objection to the school’s policy in a collaborative statement, stating that the college’s position conflicts with the Philippines’ anti-discrimination provisions:
“‘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.”
In defense of its position, the Religious of the Assumption, the congregation which operates the school, issued the following statement:
“‘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.’
“‘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 also claimed that the school’s directive isn’t disparaging homosexual persons because, they said:
“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.
The school’s approach to homosexuality reflects that of much magisterial thinking on the topic, divorcing same-gender acts from one’s identity. This distinction creates an impossible scenario for LGBTQ persons, where they are disempowered to develop their sexual and emotional health, to harmonize their faith with their identity, and to know and feel that they are loved by God.
LGBTQ identity is once again narrowly framed as a sexuality issue rather than through a human rights lens. Protecting LGBTQ persons from discrimination, prejudice, and harassment is a social justice imperative that aligns perfectly with Catholic social teaching. The school should stress that teaching in their handbook instead.
For more information about LGBTQ employment disputes in Catholic institutions, see New Ways Ministry’s resource page on “Employment Non-Discrimination.”
—Brian William Kaufman, New Ways Ministry, September 8, 2020