In about-face, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte now supports gay unions
President was previously was quoted by local media as saying he was opposed to gay unions because marriage in the Philippines is only between a man and a woman
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his support for same-sex unions, after previously declaring his opposition to gay marriage, in an about-face that may displease bishops in the mainly Roman Catholic country.
Speaking at a gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in his hometown Davao City Sunday, Duterte 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.”
Duterte previously was quoted by local media as saying he was opposed to gay unions because marriage in the Philippines is only between a man and a woman.
Duterte had brought up the gender issue in the past while attacking Western countries that allow it, especially those who criticise his brutal war on drugs.
Many countries, mostly in western Europe and the Americas, have already recognised same-sex unions. Australia is the latest to legalise it.
Catholic bishops in the Philippines, who also oppose Duterte’s bloody anti-narcotics campaign, have voiced concern over legalising same-sex marriage after his top ally in Congress vowed earlier this year to push for it.
“Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passed,” Duterte said, in an apparent reference to traditional church teaching on the issue.
“So I am with you.”
He asked the LGBT community to nominate a representative whom 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.
Naomi Fontanos, executive director of Ganda Filipinas, a transgender activist group, said she welcomed the president’s remarks but added that “we hope it’s not just an exercise in tokenism”.
“We hope that the president will really commit to the human rights and social justice for all, not just of the LGBTIQ community,” she added.
Duterte has a history of sexist remarks, boasting about his womanising and joking about rape. But he has also had allies in the gay and lesbian community for many years.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse