VERA FILES FACT SHEET: What is latent homosexuality?

President Rodrigo Duterte wants to “fast track” the cases of sick and elderly inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. He believes, however, that those who have been behind bars for a long time prefer to stay in prison because they “have acquired latent homosexuality.”

In a media interview after appointing former Manila City Jail warden Gerald Bantag as the new Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief on Sept. 17, Duterte said:

Karamihan nila ‘yan ayaw nang umalis kasi may mga (Most of them no longer want to leave because they have) lovers na ‘yan sila sa loob (inside the prison). At saka ‘yan, ‘yang naka --- ‘yang lumabas na (And those [who have been in prison] 30, 25 years, hindi na maghanap ng babae ‘yan (they would no longer look for women). They have acquired latent homosexuality. Wala na ‘yan silang (They no longer have the) desire makipaghalikan ng babae (to kiss a woman).”

He added:

Lalaking-lalaki pumasok ‘yan (They entered as men). Paglabas niyan (Once they got got out) after 30 years, 25 years, lalaki ang itsura pero (they appear like men, but) they have, I said, acquired latent homosexuality.”

Source: RTVMalacanang Youtube, Media Interview-Malacañan Palace, Sept. 17, 2019, watch from 12:43 to 14:33

Duterte previously mentioned latent homosexuality in 2017 during the 26th anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Camp Aguinaldo and in his speech marking the 23rd anniversary of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Here are three things you should know about latent homosexuality.

What is latent homosexuality?

Latent homosexuality refers to gay or lesbian tendencies that have never been expressed overtly or homosexuality that’s never fully recognized, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

It is also termed as unconscious homosexuality by The Dictionary of Psychology.

The concept of latent homosexuality was introduced and clinically documented by Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, in his work Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

Freud argued that sexual tendencies, unconscious from infancy to adolescence, are influenced by life experiences that impacted an individual’s development and expression.

Can latent homosexuality be acquired?

Psychologist and lecturer Christian Jasper Nicomedes of Masters Psychological Services says latent homosexuality is not acquired but is rather “a chance of influence”:

Pag acquired kasi ang (When you say acquired, the) connotation is nahawa ibig sabihin (it has been obtained), which is not. Kapag (If it’s) influenced, puwedeng magawa nila ‘yong act (they could do the act) without even being [homosexual].”

According to Psychiatrist Dr. Ronaldo Elepaño III, everybody has a potential to have latent homosexuality, but that does not necessarily mean the individual is a latent homosexual.

“You have to understand, hindi naman uso ang (it is not a norm to have) conjugal visits sa (in [our]) correctional system.

Maybe the homosexual behavior is not necessarily predictive of who they are as a person, but rather brought about the kind of environment they are in.”

Both Elepaño and Nicomedes believe PDLs same-sex behavior may be driven out of need.

How is latent homosexuality determined by experts?

Since latent homosexuality is unconscious to an individual, it cannot be determined unless the person admits it himself/herself, says Nicomedes.

Elepaño says it is an outdated concept because there is now more acceptance of one’s sexual orientation, compared to Freud’s generation:

“[Freud’s] idea then is hindi mo siya na-resolve (you were not able to resolve) [issues] so that spills over to your adult life. But...naging (it became) outdated siya kasi nga (because) now, there’s more acceptance of one’s sexual orientation.”

The issue now is more on repressed sexuality -- being “afraid to come out” or being “afraid to accept who I am” -- rather than not being aware of one’s homosexuality, he adds.


RTVMalacanang, Media Interview-Malacañan Palace, Sept. 17, 2019

RTVMalacanang, 26th Anniversary of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (Speech), July 12, 2017

Bureau of Communications Services, Policy Statements* July-August 2017: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Good Governance & Anti-Corruption: Do What is Fair Play and What is Only Legal and Right (p.24), July 12, 2017

RTVMalacanang, 23rd Anniversary Celebration of TESDA (Speech), August 30, 2017

RTVMalacanang, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 23rd anniversary celebration of TESDA, Aug. 30, 2017

American Psychological Association dictionary, latent homosexuality

Corsini, R. (2002). The Dictionary of Psychology (p. 1033). Unconscious homosexuality

West, D.J. (1967). Homosexuality: Its Nature and Causes (p.10). Retrieved Sept. 26, 2019

Encyclopedia Britannica, Sigmund Freud, Sept. 19, 2019

Freud, S. (1949). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. Retrieved Sept. 25, 2019

Price, J. (1984). Homosexuality in a Victorian male prison. Mental Health in Australia, 1(12), 3-12. Retrieved Sept. 25, 2019

William Institute, Polarized Progress: Social Acceptance of LGBT People in 141 Countries from 1981 to 2014 (p.27), April 2018

Pew Research Center, The Global Divide of Homosexuality, June 4, 2013

Personal communication with Psychologist Christian Jasper Nicomedes, Sept. 25, 2019

Personal communication with psychiatrist Dr. Ronaldo Elepaño III, Oct. 18, 2019

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)


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