PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s announced support for same-sex marriage, while a turnaround from his previous stance opposing it, can be considered a sign of the times. He made known his stance during a recent gathering of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Davao City.
“I am for same-sex marriage, if that is the trend of modern times. If that will add to your happiness, I am for it. Whatever makes the person happy, I will give it. Why should I hold them back?” he said.
The announcement could strengthen the position of lawmakers who have authored bills related to this. House Bill 6595, or the civil partnership bill, includes the recognition of licensed unions of people with the same sex. House Bill 4982, while not necessarily about same-sex marriage, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, identity or expression.
The bills are in keeping with the increasingly vocal and organized push by the LGBT communities worldwide for the acquisition of rights. It also shows the progressive thinking of some politicians who recognize the need to advance LGBT interests. But it also could be used by other politicians to rile the country’s various churches that have been critical of the government’s war against drugs.
Those religious groups, led by the Catholic Church, have voiced their concerns with the House of Representatives’ latest initiatives, which include another controversial measure by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Bill 6027, which seeks to make it easier for couples to work for the legal termination of marriage. But expression of concern may not be enough to stem the tide.
This is one lesson that the Catholic Church learned from its lost battle against the Reproductive Health Law, and more so because the current majority in both houses of Congress is more aggressive and harsher than that of the previous administration. Bishops and priests merely issuing statements won’t work.
The churches need to unite, educate and mobilize their grassroots forces in order for Congress not to dismiss their opposition to the measures as the ranting of a few. In the end, this is about what the majority of the people stands for.