‘We are valid’: LGBT rights group spox says it’s time to legalize same-sex civil unions in PH

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2020 05:32 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2020 06:14 PM

Couples attend despite the rain during the Metro Manila Pride March held at the Marikina Sports Center on June 29, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — After the endorsement of civil unions for same sex couples by Pope Francis, the spokesperson of the LGBT rights group Bahaghari said Thursday it is time for the Philippines to pass a law for it.

“There is so much that is being taken away (from) LGBTQ families because the state doesn’t recognize their unions and I believe it’s time we change that,” Rey Valmores-Salinas told ANC.

“Pope Francis, while his words are definitely ground breaking, … it is a manifestation of how society at large is beginning to have a deeper understanding and greater empathy for LGBTQ couples,” she added.

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The leader of the Catholic Church said in an interview for a new documentary that he backed civil unions to ensure same-sex couples can be legally recognized.

Salinas said a law should be passed in the Philippines to legalize same sex civil unions, and the country’s Family Code should be updated.

“We have a very dated Family Code. The Philippines has always prided itself in being a Catholic nation and I do believe that if the Pope himself recognize us, that it is a human right for LGBTQ couples to form families, then our position as a Catholic country also demands that we recognize these LGBTQ couples,” she said.

“It's a huge thing when the Pope, himself, recognizes the inalienable rights of the LGBTQ community to form families.”

“Even if we have a new Pope in the future, even if we have a Pope who goes against what Pope Francis leaves on today, I think it’s inevitable for society to move forward in a manner that actually accepts and embraces the diversity of our human sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions.”

Salinas said that being in a civil union recognized by the state should be a right of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

“We believe in genuine marriage equality and that means that whatever your gender is, whatever the gender of your partner is, your union is recognized solely by the state,” she said.

Same-sex couples should be experiencing the same rights as other legal couples in the country do, she said.

“We believe that a family is based on love and that unions of couples from the LGBTQ are valid, and they are very much founded on love just as much as the unions of other couples are, and that should be recognized as well," said Salinas.

“In fact, I believe that if Jesus Christ was here right now, he would be the first one to accept the LGBTQ and fight for their rights to form families."

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that Catholic lawmakers "no longer have a basis" to refuse to pass a civil union law for same-sex couples, after this was endorsed by Pope Francis. 

The civil union of homosexuals in the Catholic-majority Philippines "has always been supported" by President Rodrigo Duterte, he said.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 28 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and the United States.

Last year, Taiwan became the first place in Asia to allow gay marriages.

Drives for same-sex marriage in the Philippines have faced stiff opposition from some religious groups.

—With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News