MANILA, Philippines-House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has revealed his plans to file a bill legalizing civil unions between same-sex couples next year. Alvarez initially announced his intention to file the bill in October this year.
According to Alvarez, the said bill will also cover heterosexual couples who don’t want to be married.
“It will cover not only same-sex [couples] kundi pati opposite na ayaw nilang magpakasal pero gusto nilang magsama, so at least merong regime dun sa kanilang union,”Alvarez explained.
During a press briefing last October, Alvarez said he is willing to sponsor same-sex marriage to allow LGBT couples to have a civil union recognized by the court. Alvarez said that his move aims to send a message that it’s about time for our country to allow same-sex union.
Alvarez added that his proposal would amend the Family Code, which restricts union between man and woman. He also clarified that marriage should be left to the mandate of the Catholic Church.
The country’s first transgender lawmaker, Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman, has expressed her interest in co-authoring the said bill.
Roman said: ”If explained well…I think we can convince a lot of people, usually ang sarado ang isip (those who are not receptive to the idea)…the sky will not fall if a civil union bill is passed.”
Meanwhile, BUHAY party-list Representative Lito Atienza and other lawmakers have expressed their apprehension on the said bill, saying that marriage should exclusively be for a man and a woman.
Atienza said: “We are ready to defend the rights of anyone especially those in the LGBT community. But marriage should exclusively be, as intended by nature, for a man and a woman.”
What is a civil union?
A legally recognized arrangement bearing similarities to marriage, civil unions have been established in several countries since the late 1990s. Campaigners often see civil union as a “first step” towards legalizing “same sex” marriage.