In an apparent U-turn, president Duterte has expressed his support for gay marriage, saying “I am with you”.
His comments today (Sunday, December 17) are at odds with his previous statements on the matter, and are likely to irk leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.
Speaking at a gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Davao City, the president vowed to protect the rights of homosexuals and invited them to nominate a representative to work in his government.
“I said I am for same sex marriage if that is the trend of the modern times,” he said. “If that will add to your happiness, I am for it.”
The plain-speaking president has previously been quoted as saying he was opposed to gay unions because marriage in the Philippines was only between a man and a woman. He has usually raised the issue while attacking Western countries that allow it, particularly those that criticise his war on drugs.
Many countries, mostly in Europe in North America, have already recognised gay marriage. Australia is the latest country to legalise it.
Catholic bishops in the Philippines, who also oppose Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign, have voiced concern over legalising same-sex marriage.
“Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passed,” the president said, in an apparent reference to traditional church teaching on gay marriage. “So I am with you,” he added.
He also asked the LGBT community to nominate a representative that he could appoint to a government post, saying he needed “the brightest” to replace those he has recently fired over allegations of corruption.
“You nominate somebody who is honest, hardworking. I give you until the second week of January to nominate,” he said.
In another sign of changing times, we reported yesterday on the progress of a bill to legalise church-decreed marriage annulment.