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Ex-seminarian’s gay marriage angers Filipino Catholics

The Philippines bans same-sex marriage, and it is the only country outside the Vatican that also does not allow civil divorce

Same sex couple, John Rey Lasap and Kirt Lester Ebrada pose for a photo after their wedding on Aug. 6

Same sex couple, John Rey Lasap and Kirt Lester Ebrada pose for a photo after their wedding on Aug. 6. (Photo:The Office of the Governor in Albay Province)

Published: August 09, 2022 11:11 AM GMT

Updated: September 09, 2022 05:01 AM GMT

Filipino Church leaders and Catholic groups have deplored two self-confessed gay Catholics for tying knots publicly in the Catholic-majority country that outlaws same-sex unions.

Former seminarian John Rey Lasap married his longtime partner and make-up artist Kirt Lester Ebrada in Albay province in the Bicol region on Aug. 6.

The marriage was officiated by Pastor Macario Sangcan of the LGBT Christian Church, an independent Protestant Church based in the Bicol region.

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Catholic groups – the Marriage Encounter Couple in Christ and the Holy Family catechist group – have issued statements to condemn the marriage, saying the gay union of a former seminarian was “a scandal” for the predominantly Catholic region.

“This is the first time that someone who wished to enter the priesthood had engaged in same-sex marriage celebrated in the Philippines by a protestant Church. Despite the ban on same-sex marriage, the wedding had happened,” said the Marriage Encounter group.

The catechist group said no religious sect should officiate a same-sex marriage in the country because it is illegal.

“The protestant sect that officiated and allowed the ceremony should have opposed the union, to begin with. We all know that marriage is only between a man and a woman in the Philippines… gay marriage is void from the beginning,” said the group in a statement.

The couple, however, said they had the right to tie the knot because they wanted to profess their love and fidelity to one another.

“I do believe that marriage is a sacrament that signifies the union of Christ through the church, through the union of husband and wife. Therefore, the same thing for LGBT couple… we have equal rights because we have equal gender. Our relationship is nothing without Christ," Lasap told reporters on Aug. 6.

Lasap said he found his partner on the internet. He claimed that both are devout Catholics, but they had to marry in a protestant church as Catholic Church does not allow same-sex marriage.

“I am gay and John is bisexual…. He’s a former seminarian and he told me many things about the Bible and the life of Jesus and I fell in love with him because he was kind and intelligent. Why can’t we profess our love for one another if Jesus did not discriminate the righteous from the sinners?” Ebrada asked.

They say they plan to adopt a child from the social welfare department to “complete” their family.

“Our marriage will be perfected by having a child we will care for the rest of our lives. We will love our child dearly and raise him beautifully,” the couple said.

The Catholic Bishops’ Commission on Family and Life said the same-sex union is unacceptable as the Church stands firm on its position that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and a major purpose of the marriage is procreation.

“Marriage is not only a relationship among people. It is a divine institution. It has a divine plan, that is, for building family life- to have kids. God willed that marriage is between a man and a woman,” said Father Rico Ayo, the commission’s executive secretary.

Father Ayo says gay marriage goes beyond the issue of rights for the LGBT community as it defies the law of Nature.

“This is not just an issue of human rights, of gay rights, but what’s contrary or accordance to Divine and Natural Law,” the clergyman added.

Bishop Arturo Bastes, former chairman of the bishops’ Biblical apostolate said it was wrong to say that the Bible did not prohibit gay marriage.

“Of course, there is a biblical basis in opposing gay marriage. It is in the Book of Genesis God created Adam and Eve for the purpose of filling the earth. The purpose of their union came from God, not from men,” Bishop Bastes told UCA News.

The Philippines bans same-sex marriage, and it is the only country outside the Vatican that also does not allow civil divorce.

In 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition from a gay rights group to allow same-sex marriage.

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