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Bill recognizing LGBT unions filed in Congress

House Bill (HB) No. 6595, titled the Civil Partnership Act, seeks to allow consenting adults “of either the same or opposite sex” to form “civil partnership couples” that enjoy “all benefits and protections … granted to spouses in a marriage.”

A bill seeking to recognize the unions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples has been – finally – officially filed in the Lower House. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez filed House Bill (HB) No. 6595, titled the Civil Partnership Act, which seeks to allow consenting adults “of either the same or opposite sex” to form “civil partnership couples” that enjoy “all benefits and protections … granted to spouses in a marriage.”

“Ultimately, at the core of a civil partnership are two fully consenting adults who, like many Filipinos, merely wish to love, care and support each other as they build a life together during their fleeting time here on earth. It is about time that the Philippine government grant couple, whether they are of opposite or of the same sex, adequate legal instruments to recognize their partnerships, respecting their dignity and recognizing their equality before the law,” the explanatory note of the bill states.

HB 6595 similarly seeks to give same-sex couples the rights to marital relations, rights to a child and intestate succession or inheritance, tax benefits and labor privileges (e.g. Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and other state agencies). Civil partnership couples would also be bound by the marital communication privilege, which prohibits them from testifying against the other.

Under this bill, no one can enter into a civil partnership unless he/she is at least 18 years old and “free from any previous bond of marriage or civil partnership.” Couples should have shared a “common domicile” for at least two uninterrupted years during the time of application for a license, and their relationship should be “publicly known.”

The bill also lists down “unlawful or discriminatory employment practices”, including refusal to hire on the basis of civil partnership status and imposes a penalty of P100,000 to P500,000.

For dissolution of civil partnerships that do not work, the grounds for legal separation, annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages will be applicable.

To assuage religious fanatics, the bill also states that “any priest, rabbi, imam or minister of any church, sect or religious body is free to choose whether or not to administer or officiate a civil partnership ceremony.”

HB 6595 is co-sponsored by Reps. Geraldine Roman, the country’s first transgender lawmaker; Raneo Abu; Frederick Abueg; Len Alonte-Naguiat; Sandra Eriguel; Gwendolyn Garcia; Sharon Garin; Victoria Isabel Noel; and Eric Singson.

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