Husbands, wives and lovers may soon face jail time

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A husband sleeping with another man or a wife with another woman is not a crime in the Philippines. Not yet, anyway, unless a congressman has his way.

Under existing Philippine laws, “no crime is committed,” said Albay Rep. Edcel “Grex” Lagman, who on Thursday filed a bill that would penalize marital infidelity committed with gay lovers.

Apparently riding on the current popularity of a TV soap, “My Husband’s Lover,” where the male spouse falls in love with another man, the neophyte congressman said there was need to amend the “obsolete provisions” of the Revised Penal Code and “broaden the scope of what constitutes adultery.”

House Bill No. 2352 would prohibit a married man or woman from engaging in “sexual activity” with another man or woman, respectively.

Lagman said his measure would provide a “legal recourse” for an “aggrieved spouse against a husband’s gay lover or a wife’s lesbian lover.”

“The most important facet of these amendments is that a gay and/or lesbian can now be prosecuted for adultery, legally putting them on equal footing with a man and/or a woman who knowingly has sexual relations with a married person,” he said in a statement.

At present, the Revised Penal Code states that “adultery is committed by a married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void.”

Concubinage is committed by “a husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place.”

Both crimes are punishable with prison terms.

“But what if a married woman engages in a sexual activity with another woman? Conversely, what if a married man engages in a sexual activity with another man?” Lagman said.

The congressman said he supported the “gender equality and rights” demanded by the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. But he said the concept should not be limited to the “positive side of things.”

“Meaning, equality must be upheld both in the rewards as well as in the sanctions for violations handed out by society through innovative laws,” he said.

“Every person must be prepared to accept and carry the burdens of equal liability and responsibility. That is the true essence of democracy,” he said.

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