Manny Pacquiao deserves to be sanctioned for his homophobic statements. Impunity — the reason why government officials like him feel like they can get away with dehumanizing LGBT people — lives off on the silence and inaction of those who see that injustice is being committed, and the failure to address structural oppression at its root.
Now, Pacquiao has been dropped by Nike, a decision that came after the company was threatened with a boycott.
Does this mean that Nike cares about [LGBT] human rights? No! Nike only cares about your human rights if you have the economic capacity to buy their goods. If it truly cares for ‘equality’, then it wouldn’t be maintaining slave-like working conditions in its factories.
But what bothers me most is that there are people who see this move as a victory of collective action.
When collective action of a particular identity group is trained at wielding its profitability towards gaining inclusion, what happens to its members who are not profitable?
Is the celebration of the victory of LGBT consumer power an affirmation that human rights can be bought?
If we truly aim for the full realization of the human rights of LGBT people, then we should harness our collective action towards changing the structures that perpetuate our oppression. Yes, we start by refusing to vote for him and those like him who blatantly discriminate against LGBT people. But we must also be discerning of those who claim to be for LGBT people but, whether by commission or omission, are really anti-people — those who sponsor Anti-Discrimination Bills but turn around and vote against our #SSSPensionHike and across-the-board minimum wage raise, as if LGBT people do not have a stake in people’s issues.
Beyond the elections, we must struggle against the commodification of the LGBT identity by corporations. The minute we fall for their pinkwashing is the minute we become complicit to injustice.