By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
President Duterte reiterated yesterday his support for same-sex marriage in the country, saying he cannot hinder what will make his countrymen happy.
This came months after Duterte said he cannot allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines as this would violate the law of a Catholic country.
Duterte, in his speech at the 7th LGBT Year-End Gathering in Davao City Sunday night, said he is supporting gay marriage and that he cannot do anything if that is what will make the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community happy.
“I am for [same] sex marriage. If that will add to your happiness, I am for it. Who am I [to hinder]?” Duterte said, earning the applause of his audience.
“Kung ano kaligayahan ng tao, bakit ko pigilan (Why will I stop that which will make our people happy)? Why impose a morality that is almost passe?” he added.
Duterte also assured the LGBT community that they will not be oppressed under his term.
“There will be no oppression under my term and we will recognize your importance to society,” he said.
Duterte also said that he would like to appoint someone from the LGBT community to the Philippine Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP), giving them until the second week of January of next year to name their nominee.
“Nominate somebody who is honest, hardworking, and I would like to show that any bakla o tomboy (gay or lesbian) can always work just like an ordinary human being,” he said.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte is a president of all Filipinos and one who makes no distinctions.
“This administration has long espoused inclusivity and sensitivity. We make no distinction. We are all Filipinos enjoying our rights, freedom and equality before the law,” Roque said in a statement.
Duterte’s recent remarks were in stark contrast with his earlier statements opposing gay marriage back in March 2017 saying that it would violate the law.
“Tingnan mo ‘yung Time [Magazine]. Wala nang gender, because you can be he or she. ‘Yan ang kultura nila. Kayo lang. ‘Di ‘yan puwede sa amin, Katoliko kami (Look at Time Magazine. There’s no more gender because you can be a he or a she. That’s their culture. That cannot be applied to us because we’re Catholics),” he said back in March.
“At (And) there is the Civil Code, which is you can only marry a woman for me, and for woman to marry a man. ‘Yan ang batas natin (That’s our law),” he added.
Duterte, however, clarified that he has nothing against the homosexuals as he has gay relatives himself.
“Dalawang brother-in-law ko gay. May mga pinsan ako na gay, wala akong ano, pero kung saan ka pinuwesto ng Diyos, diyan ka lang (Two of my brothers-in-law are gay. I have a cousin who’s gay. I have nothing against them but you have to stick where God placed you),” he said.
During his presidential campaign, Duterte expressed openness to possible legislation allowing gay marriage in the country.
“The gays were created by God… God made them so medyo nagkamali ‘yung bilangan diyan sa Bible (there is a slight error in the Bible). [It should be] Adam, Eve, and the gays,” Duterte said in January, 2016.
The Philippines is one of the countries in the world that do not recognize same-sex marriages and civil unions. In October, 2016, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he will file a bill supporting gay civil union.
However, the New People’s Army has been performing same-sex marriages since 2005. The first gay marriage under the NPA was between two guerrilla fighters Ka-Andres and Ka-Jose.