Philippines: Lawmaker seeks to ban same-sex adultery but says he is not anti-gay

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A Philippines House of Representatives member has filed a bill that would criminalise married people who cheat on their partners with a person of the same-sex, but said he not anti-gay and just wanted to see everyone treated equally.

Edcel Lagman Jr said that he wanted to see same-sex adultery treated the same way as heterosexual adultery, which is currently also punished in the country.

If a married woman has sex with a man who is not her husband in the Philippines, she commits a criminal offense and can be jailed anywhere from 6 months to 6 years, although the same is not true for men who receive a far less severe penalty.

There is no divorce in the country, although a person can file for either legal separation on the ground of sexual infidelity, or can arrange an annulment.

Mr Lagman Jr’s House Bill 2352 seeks to make both same-sex and opposite-sex affairs treated in the same way under the law.

Mr Lagman Jr told PhilSTAR news: “I am supportive of gender equality and rights of the LGBT community but we must not limit its concept to the positive side of things.

“Just like in marriage, equality should be present for better or for worse — meaning, equality must be upheld both in the rewards as well as in the sanctions for violations handed by society through innovative laws.

“In the Philippines, I believe a cultural change is required, especially in the context where LGBT liberties invariably take center stage and, unfortunately, put on the periphery responsibilities and possible sanctions that they ought to contend with”.

The Philippines’s population is largely Roman Catholic with a large Muslim minority. It is one of the more liberal countries in Asia regarding same-sex acts, and allows gay people to serve in the military.

Earlier this month, the Philippines Archbishop-emeritus Oscar Cruz said he agreed with Pope Francis’ statement that gay people should not be judged, but also urged they should avoid actions that would make them “laughing stocks”.

He said: “Just like women and men, the third sex should also not lower their dignities.

“When they dress up as females, wear high heels and other such acts, they are lowering their dignities as they make themselves laughing stocks. I think that is not fair to them because they are being laughed at.”

In 2011, the Philippines Health Secretary was criticised after saying at an AIDS conference that parents “should rein in their homosexual children and get them tested”.