Churches buck Duterte bid for same-sex unions
Leaders of the Catholic and evangelical churches on Monday reiterated their objection to the legalization of same-sex marriage after President Duterte turned about and expressed support for gay unions.
In a statement, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes maintained that the Catholic Church could never approve of same-sex marriage and called on Filipinos not to allow it, especially its legalization.
“The trivialization of marriage is one of the fundamental reasons [for] the breakdown of individuals and human society,” Bastes said.
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) also voiced its objection to same-sex marriage, stressing that it was against the central teachings of Christianity and even of 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 in a statement.
Rights of homosexuals
In a speech at a gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in his hometown, Davao City, on Sunday, President Duterte vowed to protect the rights of homosexuals and invited them to nominate a representative to work in his administration.
“I want same-sex marriage. The problem is we’ll have to change the law. But we can change the law,” Mr. Duterte said to wide applause.
He said the Family Code limited marriage to a union between a man and a woman but stressed that he didn’t have any problems “making it marrying a man, marrying a woman or whatever is the predilection of the human being.”
“I am for same-sex marriage if that is the trend of modern times,” he said. “If that will add to your happiness, I am for it. Whatever makes the person happy, I will give it. Why should I hold it back?”
Bastes, however, reiterated the Church’s firm stand that marriage could only be between a man and a woman, for the procreation of children and the building of a family.
“[The] main great purpose is procreation of children and building a loving family, the basic unit of human society, which is also the domestic church. This is, of course, impossible [in] ‘marriage’ of the same sex,” he said.
The PCEC objected to House Bill No. 4982, or the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression equality bill, and House Bill No. 6595, or the civil partnership bill, which would recognize licensed unions of LGBT couples.
These bills, the PCEC said, were “serious errors that harm not only our Christian faith but also the morality and very destiny of our nation.”
“We believe these bills, if imposed on Philippine society as laws, will become a source of unwelcome tension[s] in our nation. It will only marginalize religion and thus cause the very discrimination it seeks to avoid,” the group said.
Mr. Duterte was previously quoted by local media as saying he was opposed to gay unions because marriage in the Philippines was only between a man and a woman.
He brought up the issue in the past while attacking Western countries that allowed gay marriage, especially those that criticized his brutal war on drugs.
Many countries, mostly in Europe and the Americas, have already recognized same-sex unions. Australia is the latest to legalize it.
Catholic bishops in the Philippines, who also oppose Mr. Duterte’s bloody crackdown on narcotics, have voiced concern over legalizing same-sex marriage after his right-hand man in the House of Representatives, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, introduced legislation that would legalize gay unions.
In his speech at the LGBT gathering in Davao on Sunday, Mr. Duterte did not specify how same-sex marriage would be legalized, but made it clear that he cared nothing for the Church’s opposition.
“Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passé,” he said. “So I am with you.”
The President asked the LGBT community to nominate a representative whom he could appoint to a government post, saying he needed “the brightest” to replace those he had recently fired over allegations of corruption.
“You nominate somebody who is honest, hardworking. I give you until the second week of January to nominate,” he said.
Naomi Fontanos, executive director of Ganda Filipinas, a transgender activist group, said she welcomed Mr. Duterte’s remarks but added that “we hope it’s not just an exercise in tokenism.”
“We hope that the President will really commit to the human rights and social justice for all, not just of the LGBTIQ community,” she added. —With reports from the wires
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