Philippines congress sees new push for same-sex unions

Pantaleon Alvarez gesturing while speaking

The Philippines congress is to reconsider a bill which would legally recognise same-sex civil partnerships, but not give full marriage equality.

Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez has launched a second bid to introduce equal civil partnerships after an initial attempt stalled in 2018. 

If it is passed, the bill would allow couples to enter into a legal union “whether they are of the opposite or of the same sex.”

“It aims to be a landmark effort to provide civil rights, benefits, and responsibilities to couples, previously unable to marry, by giving them due recognition and protection from the State,” Alvarez wrote in his explanatory note, GMA News reported on Tuesday (July 23).

Philippines congress posts online civil partnership poll

The bill—which is identical to the one that Alvarez tabled in 2017—comes after the Philippines congress tried to measure public opinion on civil partnerships with an online poll.

The survey drew criticism from LGBT+ rights groups such as LAGABLAB, which said that it was “misleading and irresponsible to ask for public opinion on a nuanced issue with such inadequate information and narrow choices.”

It creates a distinction between married couples and civil partners.

“Our congress should not decide on our rights solely on the basis of personal opinions or mere online polls,” LAGABLAB said in a Facebook post on May 21.

LAGABLAB added that the civil partnership bill “will not, in any way, be marriage equality.”

“While it provides for protections and obligations, it also creates a distinction between married couples and civil partners,” it wrote.

“It further creates a secondary status for LGBTQI couples — a dangerous consequence at a time when it is still legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”

Philippines president flip-flops on LGBT+ rights

As it stands, LGBT+ people have no legal protections within the Philippines.

The island nation’s president Rodrigo Duterte has flip-flopped on LGBT+ rights several times in the past.

Rodrido Duterte flanked by two other men

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. (Ted Aljibe/Getty)

During his election campaign he said that marriage was for “Adam, Eve and the gays,” but reversed his stance upon taking office.

In June 2018 he changed tack again by publicly backing same-sex unions, but has continued to use homosexuality as a smear against his opponents

In May, Duterte claimed that he had previously identified as gay, but had been able to “cure” himself.