The Philippines church has stated its support for an anti-gay discrimination bill, as long as it does not infringe on its ‘exclusive right’ to choose priests – ‘even on the basis of sexual orientation.’
Earlier this month, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) clarified its stance on LGBTI issues as Congress is set to approve the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Bill.
In a pastoral moral guidance sent to dioceses across the Catholic-majority country, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said non-discrimination was a ‘Christian imperative.’
‘Insofar as the proposed piece of legislation renders illegitimate the relegation of persons with sexual orientation and gender identity issues to citizens of a lower category enjoying fewer rights, the CBCP cannot but lend its support to this proposed legislative measure,’ he wrote.
But Villegas asserted the church’s ‘exclusive right’ to determine the criteria for entry into the priesthood and admission policies to Catholic schools – ‘even on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.’
‘We must however reiterate that none must be demeaned, embarrassed, or humiliated for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity,’ he wrote.
Villegas also told dioceses not to encourage persons to ‘choose’ their sexual orientation and gender identity as they were a gift from God.
He also insisted on distinguishing between orientation and behaviour and said the church disapproved of homosexual acts and opposed gay marriage.
Even so, The church’s statement marks progress from 2011 when the CBCP called for all references to sexual identity and gender identity to be removed from a similar anti-discrimination bill.