On Oct. 3, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez declared during a press briefing he would author a bill to legalize same-sex union. Alvarez cited provisions in the Constitution “guaranteeing the happiness” of Filipinos as reason behind his support for the realization of the rights of the LGBTQ community, saying “it’s the reason we are a democracy.” His bill would seek to amend the Family Code, which states that legal union is only between a man and a woman.
Bahaghari welcomes this bold stance. LGBTQ people are subjected to different forms of oppression– violence, discrimination, exploitation and dispossession– and the recognition of our basic right to to marry the people we love is indeed a ray of light in our dim horizon.
This is an opportunity that LGBTQs can grab in order to challenge institutionalized deep-seated cultural biases against them. It challenges the notion that marriage is a right that belongs to heterosexuals alone.
For LGBTQ people from all walks of life to be legally allowed to marry is a matter of justice. The legal privileges that marriage carries with it must be made available to everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, or socio-economic status.
Same-sex marriage goes beyond legal matters and Church recognition: it is the human dignity of LGBTQ people that is at stake. While a marriage contract will not put an end to all the adversities that we go through, such proposed bill in the Congress will provide us with an opening for demanding from the government the recognition of LGBTQ people’s rights.
While the proposed bill is welcomed, it is also necessary to demand for other reforms that would improve the lives of the LGBTQ people: sufficient and humane jobs, decent and living wages, genuine land reform, universally-accessible social services, and protection from violence and discrimination. It is only through the fulfillment of all these needs that LGBTQs would be able to live in dignity.