Controversial Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he was confused about his sexual and gender identity as a teenager.
Duterte recently garnered international headlines for flip-flopping for a third time on his stance on marriage equality.
He was speaking on Sunday at an LGBTI event in Davao City – where he was mayor from 2013-2016. Duterte told the crowd he was now in favor of marriage equality and he wanted only the brightest LGBTI young people to become future leaders.
But the president also told the crowd that he thought he may have been bisexual or trans when he was younger. He told the gathering he thought he would ‘have fun both ways, but, that did not happen’.
Marriage equality flip-flop
Duterte’s position on same-sex marriage has changed multiple times in the past couple of years. While he was campaigning for the presidency he said he supported same-sex marriage.
But earlier this year he told a Filipino community meeting in Myanmar that marriage equality would not be possible in the majority Catholic Philippines.
‘That’s [same-sex marriage] for them. That can’t apply to us, because we are Catholics,’ he said at the time.
‘And there is the civil code, which states you can only marry a woman for me, and for a woman to marry a man. That’s the law in the Philippines.’
LGBTI advocates in the country said there were mixed reactions to the president’s comments from the LGBTI community.
Ryan Silverio is the regional coordinator of the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (Association of South East Asian Nations, sexual orientation and gender identity expression caucus).
He was concerned that the attention on marriage equality ‘might sidetrack the much needed political push to pass the anti-discrimination legislation and related policies’.
‘I wish his administration will start taking concrete policy steps to advance LGBT rights in the country country,’ Silverio told Gay Star News.
Among some of the steps needed to be taken, according to Silverio are:
‘But I shall view it with an open mind while awaiting for the concrete policy steps his administration will take.’
Silverio said he was not sure if the president was being genuine with his comments. He cited Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ as evidence why the president was difficult to trust.
‘Personally, his statement is enchanting, like a whiff of opium that gives a certain high,’ he said.
‘But knowing the context behind his statements, with all the drug-related killings, leaves me thinking that perhaps we might be taken for a ride.’