Powerful Philippines politician pledges to introduce same-sex unions

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A prominent Filipino politician who is a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte has proposed introducing same-sex unions.

Pantaleon Alvarez, the Speaker of the country’s House of Representatives, made the announcement at the opening of Congress on Monday.

The pledge represents yet another at least partial u-turn from an administration which has already once retracted a promise to introduce same-sex marriage.

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But it seems the government has changed its mind again, with the Speaker telling Congress: “We must also be considerate of the fact that marriage may not be for everyone.

“Presently, it even excludes certain groups of people from its fold.

“Let us tackle this issue head on. I will file a bill that will legally recognise and protect Civil Partnerships.”

He added that “our citizens should not be excluded from society just because of the person they love.

“They must also be treated with equality before the law.”

Later on in his speech, Alvarez told the 321 politicians: “I simply want to be remembered as the Speaker of the people who listened to – and acted upon – the often unheard cries and complaints of the marginalised and voiceless members of our society.

“Together, let us empower the disempowered.”

At a forum in January last year, during the run-up to the presidential election, Duterte said he would push for legislation to allow same-sex marriage.

He told the applauding crowd that it should have said marriages were for “Adam, Eve and the gays.”

After he was elected, however, he completely reversed his stance, saying in March that “there is the civil code, which states you can only marry a woman for me, and for a woman to marry a man.

“That’s the law in the Philippines.”

The most recent opinion poll conducted in the country shows that Filipinos are against same-sex marriage, with around 70 percent opposed.

It’s unclear how citizens would feel about same-sex civil partnerships, however.

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Duterte, who has been compared to US President Donald Trump in his behaviour and treatment of marginalised citizens, has overseen more than 7,000 deaths from his war on drugs.

And just yesterday, he threatened to bomb indigenous schools which he accused of trying to convince students to overthrow the government.

Earlier this year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it would allow LGBT soldiers to sign up. However, there was a catch.

The AFP promised LGBT recruits would not be discriminated against, “as long as they behave with dignity”.