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LGBT community slams Duterte on turnaround

A slap in the face.

This was how some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community described President Duterte’s statement on his visit to Myanmar that he was against same-sex marriage.

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Mr. Duterte’s aversion to same-sex marriage notwithstanding, the leadership of the House of Representatives is drafting a bill allowing “civil union”—not same-sex marriage—for LGBT couples, according them the same rights as straight partners “short of marriage.”

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday said the bill would entitle LGBT partners the civil rights enjoyed by common-law husbands and wives, including rights to property and inheritance, as well as the adoption of children.

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The only thing that will be missing is the “blessing of the priest or the judge that this is a marriage,”  Alvarez said.

‘Disappointing’

Mark Pere Madrona, a professor, LGBT rights advocate and blog owner of The Filipino Scribe, said it was disappointing that Mr. Duterte had “rescinded his previously stated openness to having marriage equality in the country.”

“His highly negative description of gays and lesbians is definitely a slap in the face of many Filipino LGBTs who voted for him because of what they initially regarded as his progressive views on the issue. Is this his way of tempering the criticisms from the Catholic Church?” he said.

In a speech to the Filipino community in Burma on Sunday, Mr. Duterte, commenting on a Time magazine article’s assertion that  there was no longer gender distinctions, said “that’s not allowed with us because we are Catholics.”

“And we have a Civil Code, which says you can only marry a woman for me, for a woman to marry a man,” the President said.

Marjohara Tucay, Kabataan party-list national president, said the President’s comment was “tasteless, senseless and without any sense of propriety… . It’s not fit for a President or anybody.”

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Danton Remoto, chair of Ang Ladlad, said members of his group were confused about the President’s remarks and change of stand on same-sex marriage.

“We are confused with the mixed messages he is sending regarding same-sex marriage. He used to be an advocate for same-sex marriage … . I think because Time magazine writes about it. Time being an American magazine. He does not like anything European and American,” Remoto said.

He noted that when Mr. Duterte was mayor of Davao City he had LGBT programs and showed his support for same-sex marriage.

Nap Arnaiz, vice president for externals of UP Babaylan, said the President’s “‘distaste’ for the [proposed] marriage equality law (a term we prefer to use over same-sex marriage) not only exhibits one of his many false promises during his campaign, but also promotes a culture of discrimination that further stigmatizes society’s views on the LGBT peoples’ fight for the fulfillment of their basic human rights.”

Madrona said pushing for marriage equality was still not a priority in the country. The focus, then, should be more on fighting discrimination in schools and in the community.

“It’s hard to think about getting married to your partner when you can be fired from your job just for being gay. On this issue, I hope the President can still be a valuable ally,” Madrona said.

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TAGS: LGBY, Rodrigo Duterte, same sex marriage
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