MANILA, Philippines – "Definitely, the gays were created by God...God made them so medyo nagkamali yung bilangan diyan sa Bible (there is a slight error in the Bible). Adam, Eve, and the gays."
These were the words of presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte when asked about his stance on same-sex marriage on the sidelines of Rappler's "The Leader I Want" forum on Wednesday, January 20.
Duterte said he is "open" to possible legislation legalizing same-sex marriage but he is yet to make a final decision on his stance.
He expressed his misgivings on the Catholic idea that marriage is only between a man and a woman for the sole purpose of procreation.
This belief is often cited by some religious camps, particularly the Roman Catholic or Christian, as the reason why same-sex marriage is not sanctioned by God.
Around 86% of the Philippine population are Roman Catholic.
But Duterte said, "Maybe the gays were made to order to by God also or their God would be incongruous. Why just create a man solely for the function that is a universal practice? We assume in our catechism that we are created in the image of God. Definitely, the gays were created by God and there has to be a reason for that."
He is sure about one thing however: lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) should be respected.
"I have nothing to do with the sexual predilections of my fellow human beings. God must be kind to all. I have many friends, I have relatives, who are gay," he said.
On divorce, family planning
He expressed his views on two other topics controversial with the Catholic church: divorce and reproductive health rights.
He said he would likely not support legalizing divorce, saying it would inflect a lasting "injury" on the family, especially the children.
He is against abortion but is a champion of family planning.
"I am for family planning, but I will never tolerate abortion because there’s already a human being inside a womb," he said.
Duterte is one of the first mayors in the country to give out free contraceptives and even pay for tubal ligation operations of poor women.
Supporting family planning is a form of poverty alleviation, he insisted.
"If you just allow them to go their way, with 6 or 7 kids, especially in the countryside, you'll get a headache. And we mayors, we locals, encounter it eyeball to eyeball almost every day and yet we have this Christian upbringing that tells us it ain’t to be that way," he said.
The future of family planning in the Philippines faces a new challenge with the scrapping of P1 billion from the health department's budget intended for contraceptives.
These contraceptives would have been distributed to poor communities and public health centers as mandated by the Reproductive Health Law. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.