The fight against HIV and overpopulation in the Philippines has just been given an important new weapon as the country’s Supreme Court has ruled the government can provide free condoms and other kinds of contraception after a tooth-and-nail battle with the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church has been fighting for over a decade to keep condoms out of the hands of poor Filipinos and to stop sex education in schools but the last legal barrier for the Reproductive Health Law signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III was removed earlier this week when the court upheld the law.
72% of Filipinos supported the law passing despite the church’s opposition.
The Philippines has one of the world’s highest birth rates of 3.54 children per woman and HIV has been surging among LGBTI Filipinos and Filipino sex workers and drug users.
One of the law’s most ardent opponents, former senator Francisco Tatad called on Catholics to revolt against the government in response to the court’s decision.
‘This means civil disobedience at the very least, actual revolt at the most extreme,’ Tatad wrote in a commentary in the Manila Times newspaper on Tuesday.
‘Some of us will want to defy the power of the Devil and die as martyrs, if need be, in the only cause that gives us a chance to fight for something much bigger than ourselves.’
However divorce continues to be illegal in the Philippines in line with Catholic teaching.