Quezon City allows LGBTQ+ couples to make health care decisions for each other

James Patrick Cruz

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Quezon City allows LGBTQ+ couples to make health care decisions for each other

Members of the Lagablab LGBTQI+ network kick off Pride Month celebration by staging an equality rally calling for an end to discrimination and pass the SOGIE Equality Bill, at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City on June 2, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte says local governments have the power to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ community

MANILA, Philippines – LGBTQ+ couples in Quezon City will soon have the right to make health-related decisions on behalf of each other through the “right to care card”, Mayor Joy Belmonte said on Friday, June 23. 

Dito sa care card na ito ang isang LGBT couple na matagal nang nagmamahalan through special power of attorney will be able to have authority over the health care decisions na dapat gawin or kailangan gawin para sa isang partner,” Belmonte said in a city hall-run show.

(Through this care card, an LGBT couple who have long been in love, through a special power of attorney, will be able to have authority over the health care decisions that need to be made for a partner.)

“We want all of our residents, regardless of sexual orientation, to be with their partners in critical moments, and we are taking this important step to assure the rainbow community that they are cared for, recognized and valued in Quezon City,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte said this initiative was the idea of Adrian Guzman, an advertising creative and an openly gay man. 

The card contains a QR code that, when scanned, directs users to a virtual version of the actual notarized special power of attorney contract.

Underrepresented voices: Stories from the ‘plus’ in the LGBTQIA+ community

Underrepresented voices: Stories from the ‘plus’ in the LGBTQIA+ community

Generally, under the law, queer couples are not recognized as next-of-kin during medical emergencies because of this they cannot make medical decisions for their partners.

Based on the provisions of the special power of attorney, some of the privileges granted to cardholders for their respective partners include the following:

  • Right to provide care during hospitalization
  • Right to sign any waiver or document
  • Right to choose a doctor or healthcare provider, including admitting or discharging their partner from a hospital, nursing home, or residential care facility
  • Right to receive and disclose their partner’s personal information
  • Right to allow or deny medical treatments or procedures. 

Through Quezon City’s care card, Belmonte said that LGBTQ+ couples can include their partner as their beneficiary in their life insurance policy under their special contract.

Belmonte said they had already partnered with government-run hospitals in the city such as the Quezon City General Hospital, Novaliches District Hospital, and Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital.  

More hospitals soon will be added to the program as the Quezon City government said that they will conduct orientations and seal partnerships with other public and private hospitals in the city, Belmonte said.

According to Belmonte, the Quezon City Council will also craft an ordinance to make sure other hospitals recognize the right to care card. This measure will also set the guidelines for the implementation of the right to care card initiative. 

Quezon City lawyer and head of Public Assistance and Legal Affairs Office Orlando Paolo Casimiro, however, clarified that the special power of attorney should be honored by other hospitals, even those outside of Quezon City, citing national law and related administrative orders from the health department. 

How to register

Those interested to avail of the right to care card can register at the Quezon City Gender and Development Office. 

The couple has to fill up forms including the special power of attorney contract, which they need to have notarized. 

Upon the submission of duly notarized forms, the Quezon City Legal Department will validate the data provided.

After the validation, the couple will receive physical cards with unique QR codes to access the digital copy of their validated special power of attorney contract.

Registered couples will be required to attend seminars that will discuss in detail all the rights and benefits that come with the card.

Quezon City is yet to release the guidelines but one of the general requirements for the couple is that they must be at least 18 years old. 

The Quezon City government also clarified that this card is exclusively for residents of Quezon City, with at least one couple being a resident. The right to care card is also free of charge, Casimiro said. 

Quezon City has been proactive in ensuring the rights of the LGBTQ+ community with the passage of the Gender-Fair Ordinance in 2014, which is one of the first in the country.

This ordinance bans discrimination against LGBTQ+ members in their workplaces and educational institutions and in the delivery of goods and services.

As the SOGIE equality bill remains stuck in Congress for several decades, Belmonte said that local governments have the power to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ community.

“Every city has autonomy and every city has some kind of power to enact ordinances for the welfare of their constituents and that’s what Quezon City did,” Belmonte said.  

Belmonte, however, recognized that it is challenging for them to implement measures that ensure the protection of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in a landscape where the national government is not supportive.

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James Patrick Cruz

Patrick Cruz is a researcher and writer for Rappler’s governance cluster. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, he covered local governments focusing on Metro Manila.