President Rodrigo Duterte has backtracked on a campaign promise to make same-sex marriage legal in the Philippines.
Speaking at a small meeting of the Filipino community in Myanmar on Sunday, Duterte said his country could not legalize same-sex marriage because it was fiercely Roman Catholic.
‘That is their culture,’ he said referring to a recent copy of Time magazine featuring gender identity.
‘That’s [same-sex marriage] for them. That can’t apply to us, because we are Catholics.
‘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.’
Breaking election promises
His speech contradicted statements he made during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
‘If [draft same-sex marriage legislation] reaches me in whatever capacity, I’ll consider it,’ Duterte said in February last year.
Following that statement his close ally and the speaker of the House of Representatives, Pantaleon Alvarez, promised to support same-sex marriage legislation.
At a forum in January last year Duterte said he would push for same-sex marriage legislation. He also said the idea that unions must be only between men and women was an ‘error in the Bible’.
He followed that statement up saying marriages were for ‘Adam, Eve and the gays’.
Duterte has been an LGBTI supporter for years, voicing his approval of marriage equality during his term as Vice-Mayor of Davao City.
His support of LGBTI issues helped endear him to the community and arguably won him more votes.
Human Rights Watch called on the Phillipines to allow LGBTI people to marry.
‘Allowing same-sex marriage would enable gays and lesbians in the Philippines to marry the person they love and would strengthen everyone’s rights,’ it said in a statement.
‘From a human rights perspective, broadening civil marriage to couples of the same sex demonstrates respect for the fundamental rights of equality and nondiscrimination.
‘It should be enshrined in Philippine law.’
LGBTI rights in the Philippines
Duterte’s comments are a setback for the Philippines’ LGBTI community which had been making great progress recently
Some of the steps toward equality include; electing its first transgender politician, allowing LGBTI people to serve in the military, introducing anti-discrimination laws and some universities introducing gender neutral toilets.