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Philippines says in spite of US decision, no gay marriage anytime soon

Archbishop promises the Church will not discriminate against LGBT community

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: June 28, 2015 06:01 PM GMT
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Philippines says in spite of US decision, no gay marriage anytime soon

LGBT groups hold a rally in Manila on Saturday to hail the US Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States (Photo by Mark Saludes)

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The predominantly Catholic Philippines, an American colony for 50 years, is not likely to recognize same-sex marriage despite its legalization in the United States.

"Our laws are clear. The Family Code only recognizes the marriage between a man and a woman," presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr said Sunday.

The US Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the United States.

In a radio interview on Sunday, Coloma said same-sex marriage contracted by Filipinos in a foreign country will not be recognized in the Philippines.

He said the Civil Code of the Philippines states that "laws relating to family rights and duties or to the status, condition, and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines even though living abroad".

The country's Catholic bishops also said "the Church continues to maintain what it has always taught". 

"Marriage is a permanent union of man and woman, in the complementarity of the sexes," read the bishops' statement signed by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the bishops' conference. 

Villegas, however, assured that the Catholic Church would not discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

"All will continue to find welcome in the Church, while, under command from The Lord himself, will continue to teach what the Church has unceasingly taught," Villegas said.

"No bishop, priest, deacon, Religious or lay leader actively serving the Church will ever demand to know of a person his or her orientation before serving the person," the prelate said.

Villegas said the bishops "shall study [the US decision] with assiduousness, and revisit our concepts and presuppositions, always with an eye to being faithful to the Gospel and to the mission of the Church".

LGBT groups in the Philippines welcomed the US Supreme Court decision with a gay pride rally in Manila's Rizal Park on Saturday.

Jonas Bagas, head of a pro-LGBT rights group, said he hopes the struggle for equality "can be reframed to go beyond marriage equality so that we can address other dehumanizing situations that LGBTs encounter".

Danton Remoto of the LGBT political party said he does not expect same-sex marriage to be legalized in the Philippines anytime soon. He said even the proposed measure on anti-discrimination against LGBTs has already been pending in Congress for ten years.

Conservative Catholics, especially in the provinces, are worried that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to the legalization of abortion.

"This is against the Bible," said 26-year old Arlene Gabon in Tacloban City.

Gay Gaspay, a 57-year old mother of six, said that: "with young people now who easily follow the fad, I am afraid they will be more likely inclined to gay marriage".

"It is a sign of the times,” said Gaspay.

"We expect the conservative majority to block the passage of a law that will allow same-sex marriage," said Bagas.

Local Church leaders admitted that the US decision would likely test Philippine lawmakers, and traditional notions of marriage.

Fr Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs office of the bishops' conference, urged Filipinos to "resist what Pope Francis said about the so-called 'ideological colonization' where philosophies from the West are adopted to suit our lifestyle".

During his visit to the Philippines in January, the pontiff appealed to the traditional values of Filipino Catholic families to oppose same-sex marriage.

"As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God's plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture," the pope told a gathering of Filipino families on January 16.

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