Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he plans to file a bill seeking to institutionalize same-sex civil marriage in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country.
"I will support same-sex marriage… Tignan mo 'yung Constitution natin. May provision do'n guaranteeing happiness sa mga Pilipino. Eh bakit naman natin ipagkait 'yun, 'di ba?" said Alvarez in a press conference on Monday, October 3.
(I will support same-sex marriage…. Look at our Constitution. There's a provision there guaranteeing the happiness of Filipinos. Why should we deprive them that right?)
"Sa atin naman ako ay nakikiisa doon sa ating kapatid na LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). Kung happy sila do'n, bakit naman 'di natin suportahan?" he added.
(I am one with our brothers and sisters from the LGBT community. If they're happy with that, why won't we support it?)
The word "happiness" is not found in the 1987 Constitution, but the preamble states: "We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution."
Alvarez said he is currently drafting the measure but is yet to rally support from other legislators. He explained that the bill would lift same-sex civil marriage prohibitions in the country's almost 3-decade-old Family Code.
LGBT advocates have long been rallying support to allow same-sex marriage in the country, but this has been met with strong opposition by the Catholic Church. (READ: Same-sex marriage, love and dissent)
A May 2015 The Standard survey also showed that 7 out of 10 Filipinos oppose same-sex marriage, with 70% of survey respondents saying they "strongly disagree."
Alvarez, however, is unfazed, saying he expects opposition against the bill he plans to file.
"Kaya nga tayo demokrasya. Meron talagang opposition. Wala namang walang opposition," he said.
(The Philippines is a democracy. There will always be opposition. There's no issue that is not met by opposition.)
"The beauty of democracy is we can argue, we can disagree, but at the end of the day, it's still the majority that will prevail," added Alvarez.
He received backlash last week for saying he saw nothing wrong with showing Senator Leila de Lima's alleged sex video during the ongoing House probe into the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
The 17th Congress has already taken other steps to protect the rights of LGBTs. (READ: Proponents hope to pass anti-discrimination bill in 17th Congress)
Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman, the first transgender congresswoman in the country, led other lawmakers in refiling the Anti SOGI (Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity) Discrimination Act, which has remained in limbo for the past 17 years. – Rappler.com