MANLA, Philippines – While thankful for President Rodrigo Duterte’s support for same sex marriage, the first transgender lawmaker elected in Philippine Congress believes civil partnership is more acceptable to the Filipinos at this time.
Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman said it’s time the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community enjoy the legal recognition and civil rights they deserve.
Over the weekend, Duterte said in Davao City that, “There will be no oppression and we will recognize your importance in society. I said I am for sex marriage. If that is the trend of the modern times, if that will add to your happiness, I am for it.”
On March 19, however, before the Filipino community in Myanmar, he had expressed opposition to same sex marriage.
“Wala nang [There are no clear distinctions of] gender, because you can be he or she… ‘yan ang kultura nila. Kayo lang. ‘Di ‘yan puwede sa amin, Katoliko kami [That’s their culture; but we can’t stand for that; we are Catholics]. At there is the Civil Code, which is you can only marry a woman for me, and for woman to marry a man. ‘Yan ang batas natin,” he had said.
Roman said that the “more feasible option” would be the passage of the Civil Partnership Bill, which is being pushed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez at the House of Representatives.
House Bill No. 6595 or the Civil Partnership Act proposes to allow consenting adults “of either the same or opposite sex” to form “civil partnership couples” that enjoy “all benefits and protections … granted to spouses in a marriage.”
Earlier, advocates of such a law granting same-sex “unions” – not marriage – all the rights of civil partnership had said that it is more feasible because it does not infringe on the beliefs of most major religions about the sacredness of marriage. Catholics look at marriage as a sacrament, for example.
The laws of marital relations, rights to a child and intestate succession or inheritance would be the same as those of married couples.
“The Civil Partnership Bill has definitely more chances of being approved,” Roman said. “What we are interested in is the legal recognition and the civil rights attached to it, bearing in mind what is plausible at this point in time and without offending religious sensibilities.”
“Congress is a numbers game and I honestly think that at this point, my colleagues in the 17th Congress are not ready for Same-Sex Marriage. Many of them believe that marriage is an institution with religious connotations and we respect that,” she added.
Roman welcomed the President’s pronouncement to create a Commission on LGBTQI+ Affairs to address the needs of the community as we all work towards an inclusive Philippines where discrimination does not exist.