I have been scouring the Internet for the online version of the 5 December 2004 issue of the Philippine Star online. There is an article there of how Mayor Solitario Ali of the Islamic City of Marawi has imposed a dress code for the residents and visitors of his city. Either Philstar does not have an archive or I just missed it with all the ads they have on their page. Not even Google could give me the page I wanted, but with several keyword combinations I managed to find a similar article in the Gulf News and to save you from one more click here is the entire text of the article:
World | Philippines
Published: 5/12/2004, 07:04 (UAE)
Homosexuals and indecent attire prohibited in southern city
By Al Jacinto, CorrespondentA city in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao recently imposed a ban on gays as well as tight-fitting jeans, tube blouses that expose a woman’s midriff and other scanty attire in public.
“Since Marawi City is the only Islamic city in the country and part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), we have to comply with the culture, religion and tradition of the Muslims but without going against the country’s Constitution,” said Mayor Omar Solitario Ali.
Ali said the ordinance is part of the “cleaning and cleansing” programme to improve Marawi City’s image.
The mayor said there was a clamour from both public at large and government authorities to ban these types of behaviour that entail putting cross-dressers back into the closet.
Aside from the ordinance, Ali said the beautification drive also includes the ongoing clean-up of garbage in the urban area, demolition of illegal structures and the cleansing of bad influences in the community.
The Marawi City council also requires Muslim women to strictly wear the headscarf and the prohibition of wearing skintight denim or non-denim pants and other skimpy attire, so as “not to induce impure thoughts or lustful desires”, the mayor said.
In fairness to Mayor Solitario, the ban was on cross-dressing, not on gays per se. I think even the most free-thinking artist, gay or otherwise, will agree that self-expression may take second place to a respect for the culture and customs of the place that they are living in or visiting, if one’s life or freedom were at stake, and that people, gay or otherwise, do have an instinct for self-preservation.