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Militant lawmaker: Same-sex marriage law hard to push but worth it

Casiño says debate tends to strengthen constituency for gay rights


BAGUIO CITY, Philippines —The fifth Baguio Gay Pride celebration, which was led by homosexuals dressed as fairies and “Goddesses of Equality,” proceeded on Sunday despite heavy and continuous rains.

The parade honored the solemnization of the unions of eight gay couples, who were “wed” by pastors of the Metropolitan Community Church at a local bar on Saturday.

Cyrene Reyes, one of the Baguio Pride Network organizers, said the parade also celebrated the legalization of same-sex unions in New York, where the 1969 Stonewall riots were ignited by a standoff between a gay community in Greenwich Village there and the New York police.

The Stonewall incident inspired the international gay rights movement, which fought for laws criminalizing gay discrimination and which pushed co-habitation rights of same-sex couples.

But a measure that would legalize same-sex unions in the Philippines, as well as a law that would allow them to adopt children, “is farthest from our minds at the moment,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño.

Casiño was here to draw support for House Bill No. 1483 (Anti-Discrimination Act of 2010), a measure penalizing people who discriminate against homosexuals.

Casiño said HB 1483, if passed, would also make the state recognize other sexual orientations.

This bill is the third measure that proposes to update Philippine standards on sexuality and domestic relationships, next to the more controversial Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011 (HB 4244) and the Divorce Bill (HB 1799), according to Casiño.

He said the Catholic Church has described the confluence of these civil rights bills as an assault on morality.

“But there was no deliberate design to advocate all these bills at the same time in Congress,” he said. “We only have three years [to promote civil rights legislation of this nature], and we are glad when Congress finally discusses them on plenary, like the RH bill.”

Casiño said activist lawmakers have been competing with their colleagues, “and just seeing our bills selected for hearing by congressional committees is already a thrill.”

There have been failed attempts to legislate laws on discrimination, reproductive health and divorce, “but these ideas have generated a healthy public support this year,” which have prompted Congress to address these concerns, Casiño said.

These are relatively easier measures to pass, compared to proposals for legitimizing same-sex unions, and laws allowing same-sex couples to adopt children “which are too far beyond our [society’s] understanding.”

He said the most important consequence of pursuing these measures would be to widen the public constituency that believe in gay rights, reproductive health and divorce for battered women as legitimate concerns.

Casiño said he would seek a congressional inquiry into hate crimes against gays uncovered by the Philippine LGBT Crime Watch, an online organization linked by social networking site, Facebook.

He said the group claimed that 97 homosexuals have been murdered in the country since 1996. “These reports are culled from news reports so we need to determine whether the murders are directed against gay individuals,” he said.

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Tags: bisexuals , civil and political rights , gays , Gender issues , justice and rights , Legislation , lesbians , news , same sex marriage , Social Issues , transgenders

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