'PH law must recognize LGBTs' right to marry as basic human right'
Arlyn “Sugar” Ibanez, Reverend Crescencio “Ceejay”Agbayani, and their respective partners applied for marriage licenses in Quezon City last August 3 but their applications were not admitted by the local civil registry. Sugar and Ceejay vowed to fight for their right to marry by raising the issue to the Supreme Court.
All human beings are born free and equal. Philippine law should uphold the basic human rights of everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE). Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs) enjoy the same rights to equality and non-discrimination as all Filipino citizens, thus, our laws should afford LGBTs the same rights as heterosexuals, and should not in any way favor heterosexuals.
The right to marry is a basic human right that everyone should enjoy - heterosexuals and LGBTs alike. It is guaranteed by our constitutional rights to equality, equal protection of the law, privacy, religion and belief.
It is an injustice to afford the benefits of marriage to heterosexuals and deny the same to LGBTs. The right to equality in marriage of LGBTs must be recognized by Philippine law to afford them the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexuals such as the rights to jointly adopt children, own conjugal properties, intestate succession, migrate, avail of tax exemption, and avail of benefits related to insurance, social security, medical, hospitalization, next-of-kin, burial, among others.
In my work as a human rights lawyer, I have interviewed many lesbian women in same-sex relationships who are supporting the children of their lesbian partners while the former male partners of their lesbian partners deliberately fail to provide support to their children.
To me, these lesbian women providing support to their lesbian partners and their partner’s children are heroes, and yet our laws fail to recognize their basic right to marry.
There are LGBT people who belong to various religions whose unions were celebrated by their churches and now these couples want to be validly married by their non-Catholic churches.
There are also LGBT couples who do not belong to any church but would want to be married civilly. Limiting the right to marry to heterosexuals discriminates against LGBTs and denies people of different faiths and beliefs their right to marry.
The constitutional right to freedom of religion also guarantees non-establishment of religion. Disallowing LGBTs the right to marry under Philippine law because it is against the teachings of a certain church violates the non-establishment clause.
One of the most poignant examples of non-establishment clause and secular standards in law in the context of the Philippines are the laws of predominantly Catholic countries allowing equality in marriage.
Spain, from which the Philippines inherited the Catholic religion, is the third country that recognized equality in marriage of LGBTs in 2005. The most recent one is Ireland while others include Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, and Portugal.
The lack of recognition of LGBTs' right to equality in marriage in Philippine law is discrimination against LGBTs. As long as equality in marriage is not recognized, people will always justify discrimination against LGBTs.
There will be mothers who beat their daughters and lock them up in a room for weeks simply because their daughters are lesbians. There will be fathers who beat up their children because their children are gay or trans. There will be teachers who force students to wear curtains as skirts to stop them from expressing their male gender identity.
While Philippine law does not recognize equality in marriage, we are all complicit to the hate crimes committed against LGBTs, all the bashing and bullying that LGBTs suffer, and all the discrimination that LGBTs suffer on a daily basis.
Recognizing the right to equality of marriage of LGBTs is an important step towards eliminating discrimination against LGBTs, paving the way towards a society where LGBTs live a life of dignity and respect.
As decent human beings who respect the rights of others, we should work towards a world where LGBTs are not afraid of going to school to be bullied by their classmates or teachers, where LGBTs are not made to suffer bashing and hate crimes, and where LGBTs are free to come out and be considered equal in all aspects of life. - Rappler.com
Lawyer Clara Rita Padilla is the founder and Executive Director of EnGendeRights. She is a human rights lawyer who has expertise in the fields of gender, gender-based violence, reproductive rights, and SOGIE. She has won several Supreme Court en banc cases including the 2010 landmark case of Ang Ladlad vs. COMELEC (G.R. No. 190582), where she and several other lawyers won their petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court granting the accreditation of the LGBT party-list organization that was originally denied accreditation by COMELEC. She has proposed language for draft bills and ordinances that have been passed into law including the Quezon City Gender-Fair City prohibiting discrimination based on SOGIE and providing affirmative acts.