President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte welcomes the idea of same-sex civil unions, despite his opposition to equal marriage.
At a press conference in Maasin City, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said: ‘The president opposes same-sex marriage but as for union, the president is in favor of it.’
Roque claimed that Duterte approves of civil unions as they will afford same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
The country’s Supreme Court Justices are currently reviewing whether the ban on same-sex marriage in the Philippines is unconstitutional.
The bill would grant same-sex unions rights to wealth and property inheritance, and child adoption rights, among others identical to heterosexual marriages.
Arguments in favor of unions have been heard at the high court, including from Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio. According to Carpio, civil unions are constitutional due to their basis on the right to freedom of association.
Carpio made the case that the constitution of the Philippines already allows same-sex couples to enter legal agreements regarding property.
Legislator Geraldine Roman claimed that civil unions and marriage only differentiate through ‘religious connotations’.
Roman, a supporter of the bill, is the Bataan 1st District Representative, and the country’s first transgender legislator. She said that the choice not to call unions marriage is designed to avoid the protest of religious institutions.
61% of people in Philippines reject same-sex unions
President Duterte’s standing on the issue of same-sex marriage has seemingly flip-flopped in recent years.
During his presidential campaign in 2016, Duterte claimed he was ‘open’ to legalizing same-sex marriage.
Duterte back-tracked in March 2017 by rejecting any notion of legalization. He stated that the Philippines is a Catholic country, and that its civil code only recognizes marriages between men and women.
Roque’s statement regarding Duterte’s preference for civil unions follows new polls regarding national consensus on the issue. According to a Social Weather Stations survey, 61% of people in the country disagree with same-sex unions.
Only 21% of the population said it approved of civil unions for same-sex couples.
It found that the majority of people opposed same-sex civil unions in every part of the Philippines.
Also on Gay Star News: