A historic case to make same-sex marriage legal in the Philippines has started this week in the country’s Supreme Court.
Lawyer Jesus Falcis III who is also one of the co-plaintiffs is leading the case for marriage equality.
‘When the right to marry, a decision so personal, so intimate and so life-changing, is denied to LGBT people, the state is not valuing their dignity,’ he told the Justices on Tuesday (23 June).
A 1987 law declared marriages are only legal between men and women. But Falcis will argue that the Philippines Constitution does not state that anywhere.
While the case is historic, a result is not expected for a very long time.
It took two years to get the case before the court after Falcis filed his petition in 2015. The Supreme Court announced it would hear the petition in March this year.
History in the making
But aside from potentially legalizing same-sex marriage, the case is historic for another reason.
‘The decision will be landmark because the court has never pronounced on this,’ University of the Philippines law professor Antonio La Vina told AFP.
‘Obviously, it would be even more landmark, more historic if they say marriage is not between a man and a woman.’
Even though the Philippines is considered one of the most LGBTI-friendly countries in Asia, it is still considered quite conservative.
Abortion and divorce are still illegal in the majority Catholic country.
Falcis filed his first petition to the Supreme Court to hear arguments on same-sex marriage only one month after he passed the legal bar in 2015.
His displayed his inexperience on the first day of the trial and the Justices criticized the procedural flaws he made.
They threatened to throw out his case.
‘I will be very candid to you as a graduate of the same school, that I am more inclined to dismiss your case,’ Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza told Falcis in court.
Falcis agree he had made mistakes. But he argued the Justices could not dismiss the case now because of the negative impact on the LGBTI community. The Justices agreed.
Stunning!!! Justice Francis Jardeleza, one of the most liberal Supreme Court justices (Harvard/UP) explicitly said he was inclined to dismiss.
— OscarFranklinTan 陳志宏 (@oscarfbtan) June 19, 2018
‘I concede to the wisdom of the Honorable Justice that petitioner alone, even as a counsel in his career, probably made mistakes during the handling of the petition, but we will answer that in the memorandum. Disregarding the mistakes of the petitioner, there are actual LGBT couples in this case who will be harmed if their fundamental rights will not be recognized,’ Falcis told the court.