Sorry, gays, Duterte is no longer for same-sex union
NAYPYITAW, BURMA (MYANMAR)—Same-sex marriage is not for the Philippines, President Duterte has said here, reversing his campaign promise to support legislation allowing gay unions.
Some Catholic bishops were pleasantly surprised by Mr. Duterte’s turnaround.
“Very nice of Duterte. It is a ‘pogi’ (brownie) point for our President,” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes.
While he invoked Catholic morals in expressing his distaste for same-sex marriage, Mr. Duterte chastised the Church for being a hindrance to birth control, which he encouraged.
He segued into his thoughts on gender identities and same-sex marriage after blasting the European Union parliament for a draft resolution calling for a United Nations probe of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines’ war on drugs.
“Look at the latest Time magazine issue. It says there is no longer gender distinction because you can be a her or she … . That is their culture. But that’s just them. That’s not allowed with us because we are Catholics,” he said in a one-and-a-half-hour speech on Sunday night at his meeting with the Filipino community.
The President was referring to the magazine’s March issue, with the cover story on expanding gender identities in the United States titled “Beyond He or She: How a new generation is redefining the meaning of gender.”
“And we have a Civil Code, which says that you can only marry a woman for me, for a woman to marry a man. That’s our laws and why should these other genders be brought into it?” he added.
This position contrasts with his stance during the 2016 presidential campaign, when he expressed support for possible legislation allowing same-sex marriage.
In a preelection forum in January last year, Mr. Duterte endeared himself to progressives and the gay community when he was asked whether he would push for legislation to allow same-sex marriages. He replied that he would.
He said there appeared to be an “error in the Bible” when it said unions must be only between men and women. It should have stated that marriages were for “Adam, Eve and the gays,” he said, to cheers from the crowd.
But since winning the presidency by a wide margin in May last year, Mr. Duterte has yet to act on that promise.
His allies in the House of Representatives, who control the votes there, are expected to relegate a bill that would protect the rights of gays to the back burner, arguing that it is not a priority.
With the President’s stance on same-sex marriage, the sanctity and stability of marriage are respected and promoted, said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos.
“This shows he still adheres to our Catholic teachings … . Marriage of a man and a woman is a strong pillar of a stable and secured society,” Santos said.
He said Mr. Duterte’s stand was very inspiring and encouraging news. “We are grateful to our President and we are appreciative of his wise decision.”
Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani, who was earlier accused by Mr. Duterte of having two wives, said he was happy with the President’s decision.
“Let us not follow the bad example of other countries in this matter,” Bacani said.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza lauded the President for expressing his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“I respect the rights of two people sharing affection and material things, but to allow them to get married by law is not OK. Same-sex couples can share affection even without marriage,” Atienza said in a statement.
Gay in-laws, cousins
The President tried to soften his stance by pointing out that he had two brothers-in-law and cousins who were gay, but went on to say: “Where God put you, stay there. Don’t mix all of us up. Would you believe, you erase the great divide between a woman and a man?”
Later, he again recalled the Time story. “God. What about what we were taught in religion classes in school?”
The President was quick to clarify, however, that while he had a “deep and abiding faith in God,” he did not believe in the Catholic creation myth.
“But it’s more of a universal conduct,” he said, explaining his religious philosophy. “Because religion is the source of the conflict actually of the killings in the world, because we’re not understanding each other,” Mr. Duterte said.
Aggressive birth control
It was at this point that he segued into birth control, calling the Church a “problem.”
“The Philippines is overloaded with people. Me, I am really embarking on aggressive birth control,” he said. “It really is too much. I am telling you this because that is what is contributing to the misery of the Filipino.”
“That’s because of the Church,” he said. “Always the sanction is ‘you will go to hell.’”
He then announced that he had cramps in his legs. “Perhaps, someone who is listening is now angry. God, if you are God, be kind just a little bit to your creation,” the President quipped, to chortling from the crowd. —WITH REPORTS FRIN TINA G. SANTOS AND DJ YAP IN MANILA AND THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
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