The country’s legislature, which is composed of a significant number of Catholics, should now abandon its conservative views on marriage as the head of the Catholic Church has already endorsed same-sex civil union, a lawmaker said Friday.
Pope Francis was quoted this week in a documentary film as saying that homosexuals are “children of God and have a right to a family,” and that there must be civil union laws for them to be legally covered. The Pope’s landmark endorsement has been described as “a breath of fresh air” by civil society organizations and even some religious groups.
Bataan Rep. Geraldine B. Roman said lawmakers, including Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, should focus on the human rights and legal aspects of same-sex civil union instead of dwelling on traditional views on marriage.
Ms. Roman, the first and only transwoman to join the Philippine Congress, made the statement after Mr. Sotto said that Pope Francis’ landmark endorsement has no bearing on the validity of pending bills legalizing the union of same-sex couples.
“Same-sex union is already being practiced here and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s just tolerated but not in the legal sense. We should leave it at that,” Mr. Sotto, a known critic of policies concerning the welfare of the LGBTQ+, told reporters Thursday.
“He cannot speak for other lawmakers, he is not a good mind-reader,” Ms. Roman told BusinessWorld, saying that those who oppose the measures recognizing the civil partnership of homosexual couples would not be obliged to have a same sex relationship.
“We should not be stuck in middle ages, let us have some progress,” she said.
Ms. Roman said House Bill No. 2264 or the “Civil Partnership Act,” which remains pending at the House committee on women and gender equality, should be passed to protect the civil rights of same sex couples who, until now, are being discrimiinated against.
“The society has to face the reality that there are LGBTQ+ couples, and their rights must be protected,” she said.
Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera, author of HB No. 1357, or “An Act Recognizing the Civil Partnership of Couples, Providing their Rights and Obligations,” hopes that pending bills recognizing the validity of same sex unions will “finally move forward after being dormant for so long.”
Meanwhile, Bahaghari National Spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas said the Pope’s remark is a manifestation of a society “that is beginning to awaken to the need for empathy and respect for the incredible diversity of human sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions.”
“The Pope’s landmark remark is not just the opinion of a single man. It is a reflection of a society slowly but inevitably recognizing the value of love across all genders, something that not even a rabidly backward-minded Senator like Tito Sotto cannot stop,” she told BusinessWorld on Friday. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza