Reversing his stance, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country.
Speaking before the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Davao City on Sunday, December 17, Duterte suggested the possibility of legalizing the union between same sexes in the Philippines, as the current law provides that marriage is only between man and woman.
“Ako gusto ko (I want) same-sex marriage. Ang problema we’ll have to change the law. But we can change the law. Eh ang batas kasi (Because our law states that) marriage is a union between a man and a woman,” Duterte said in his speech.
As stated by the Executive Order (E.O.) 209, marriage is “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life.”
But the president expressed that he does not have “any problems making it marrying a man, marrying a woman or whatever is the predilection of the human being.”
He continued, “If that is the trend of the modern times, if that will add to your happiness, I am for it. Who am I?”
The president also assured the LGBT community in the country that he will not tolerate discrimination against all sectors of society.
In the same speech, Duterte likewise said he is willing to appoint members of the LGBT community to his Cabinet, giving them until the second week of January to choose their nominee.
“Now find me the brightest dito sa Pilipinas (here in the Philippines). Bigyan ninyo ako ng bright na tao (Give me a bright person). He might be gay, he might be lesbian. I’d like to nominate or appoint somebody upon the nomination,” Duterte said.
He added, “You nominate the representative from the LGBT sector kasi (because) I fired the entire [Presidential] Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), the head for traveling so much in so short a time, as if he was using the money of the people like his own.”
Earlier this month, the president had fired all the commissioners of the PCUP, headed by its former chairman Terry Ridon, because of their alleged unnecessary trips and supposed failure to hold meetings.
It is not clear, however, which government body Duterte was referring to when he made the remark about appointing a member of the LGBT community to his Cabinet.
“I’d like a gay there somewhere or a lesbian… You nominate somebody who is honest, hardworking. And I would like to show that any, any ma-bakla man o ma-tomboy (gay or lesbian) can—well, can always work just like an ordinary human being,” Duterte said.
During his taped TV appearance on “Gandang Gabi Vice” in 2015, Duterte told gay television host Vice Ganda that same-sex marriage is “good,” adding “everyone deserves to be guaranteed happy.”
But in his speech before the Filipino community in Myanmar earlier in March this year, Duterte insisted that marriage in the predominantly Catholic Philippines is between a man and a woman.
He clarified, however, that he respects the lifestyle of the people in the LGBT community, sharing that some members of his extended family are gay.
Following Duterte’s recent bid to legalize same sex marriage, some Catholic Church leaders in the country reiterated their stance against it.
In a statement, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes maintained that the Catholic Church will never approve the union between same sexes. He also called on the Filipinos to never allow its legalization.
“The trivialization of marriage is one of the fundamental reasons [for] the breakdown of individuals and human society,” Bastes said.
In a separate statement, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) also voiced its objection as it noted that such union was against the central teachings of both Christianity and Islam.
“Union between the same sex, for instance, directly contradicts a central teaching of Islam and Christianity—that marriage is only between a man and a woman,” the PCEC said. (Dana Sioson/AJPress)