LGBTQ rights in the Philippines has found support from a top government official, who has pledged his personal support behind same-sex marriage.
Pantaleon Alvarez, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said Monday he will file a bill legalising same-sex marriage in the Philippines. He intends to sponsor it himself too, and his staff has already begun drafting it, he told local press.
The Speaker of the House is a powerful position third in line to the presidency, behind the vice president. The post is an elected role by the majority of the representatives in congress.
He was reported saying: “If you look at the Constitution, there is a provision guaranteeing happiness for the Filipinos. Why would we deprive them of that? If they are happy with that, shouldnt we support them?”
He was referring to a provision from 1987 stating that the “state values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.”
The Philippines is a majority Roman Catholic nation, and the Church has put up a strong opposition against LGBTQ issues.
Still, Alvarez is confident that his bill isn’t asking for the Church to bend. “My proposal is about civil union. We do not meddle with the affairs of the Church. Theres no problem if they dont want it,” he was quoted saying in a press conference.
“The beauty of democracy is we can argue and disagree, but at the end of the day, it is the majority that prevails,” said the speaker.
Alvarez has been a government worker since 1998, when he was elected congressman for his province of Davao del Norte.
The reaction from Filipino netizens has largely been positive.
I hope someday the Philippines would be open-minded and legalize same sex marriage
ching (@_chingp) October 3, 2016
Same sex marriage in the Philippines? Good luck. I support you but you need a lot of luck.
Fueled by tea (@weebitinsane) October 3, 2016
People are saying that same sex marriage shouldn’t be implemented in the Philippines because they will be offended haha wtf : )
*inhales* scREM (@httpmayuzumi) October 3, 2016
“Same sex marriage in the Philippines”
BRACE YOURSELVES FOR HOMOPHOBIC PEOPLE AND RELIGIOUS BIGOTS WITH THEIR BIBLE VERSES
delayna zedislava (@MystiqueAstrid) October 3, 2016
Opposition from other politicians
But other politicians have expressed reservations about the bill. Danilo Suarez, the spokesperson for the minority party, suggested to Rappler that the same-sex debate was lower down a priority list for the country.
“Why do we even need to talk about that? The House will be divided. Our attention might be refocused. (President) Duterte is concentrated on drugs and peace and order. There’s health, employment, education.”
if you think politics is divisive in the Philippines, wait until we get into same sex marriage.
Ian (@ianklsdmbldr) October 3, 2016
“I am committed to resist it.”
Another minority party leader, Lito Atienza, said he was “disappointed” that Alvarez wanted to escalate the bill “in the midst of our busy schedule…I am committed to resist it.”
Atienza added that he was against the bill because it was “against the law of God, against the law of man, and natural law. marriage is just for man and woman.”
Just last month, the Philippines’ first transgender lawmaker delivered an impassioned speech in support of a dormant anti-discrimination bill.
Geraldine Roman said the bill, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, would be a step forward in equal treatment for the LGBTQ community in gaining access to basic services and employment.