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Philippine bishops praise court rejection of same-sex marriage

But legislators can still legalize such unions despite Supreme Court rebuffal, priest warns

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: January 07, 2020 07:19 AM GMT

Updated: January 07, 2020 07:20 AM GMT

Philippine bishops praise court rejection of same-sex marriage

Students display banners calling for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people to be respected during a 'Pride March' in Manila. (Photo: Joe Torres/ucanews)

Philippine church leaders have welcomed a court ruling that killed off a petition seeking to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Philippine Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling to dismiss the petition that was once touted as historic for the predominantly Catholic country.

The court rejected "with finality" the motion because it lacked "substantial arguments" to warrant the reversal of the court's earlier decision.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo praised the ruling, saying the country already has so many problems affecting the poor and the needy. He said the government should instead focus on issues like poverty, work, migration and climate change.

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao said the Catholic Church will always uphold the teachings of Jesus regarding marriage, regardless of what laws the state introduces.

Father Melvin Castro, former head of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said joy over the court decision is "incomplete."

In an earlier statement, the Supreme Court said the Philippine Constitution does not explicitly ban same-sex marriage.

"From its plain text, the constitution does not define, or restrict, marriage on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression," the court said.

Father Castro said the final decision is in the hands of legislators who can enact a law that will allow same-sex marriage. He said the court ruling "challenges us to be vigilant and ever on guard."

Christian pastor Eduardo Villanueva, who is a member of the House of Representatives, lauded the court decision, saying the country's Family Code was crafted "to mirror the historical, traditional and religious values of Filipinos on marriage."

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Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code limit marriages between a man and a woman while articles 46 (4) and 55 (6) mention lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.

"Marriage, as an inviolable social institution in Filipino life, has always been conceived between a man and a woman," said Villanueva.

He said to nullify the existing Family Code "would be tantamount to denying our identity as a people and betraying our deep-held morals."

"It is not only against God, it is also against ourselves as a people," he said.

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