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House urged to heed Pope Francis call to protect same-sex couples

HOUSE Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera on Friday urged her colleagues in Congress to listen to Pope Francis and heed his call for legislation to protect same-sex couples.

“Let us heed the call of Pope Francis to defend and protect same-sex couples by allowing them to formalize their partnerships through civil unions,” Herrera told her fellow lawmakers.

But unless otherwise amended by Congress, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo “Pido” Garbin said “marriage under the Family code is still limited to a man and woman as defined and subject to the essential requisites of marriage.”

“Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code. (52a) Art. 2,” Garbin, a lawyer, explained.

“No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present: (1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; the civil union and property relations of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group can also be the subject of an amendment of the Family Code by Congress,” Garbin stressed.

Herrera is the author of House Bill (HB) 1357, which allows same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships and be accorded the same legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

The bill has been pending before the House committee on women and gender equality, chaired by Herrera, since July 2019.

It faces strong opposition from conservative lawmakers who argue that same-sex union is “not in accordance with the 1987 Constitution, the Family Code of the Philippines and the law of God.”

Herrera said the Pope’s remarks would “definitely boost” efforts toward recognizing the right of same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.

“The Pope’s endorsement of same-sex civil union is a major advancement for equal rights in this country,” the lady solon said.

She also expressed her admiration to the Pope for his “courage to break from traditional Catholic teaching and champion the rights of homosexuals to establish a family of their own.”

Herrera, meanwhile, agreed with Malacañang that even the most conservative of the Catholics in Congress should no longer have a basis for objecting same-sex union with no less than Pope Francis supporting it.

The Palace also stated that the recognition of civil union for same-sex couples has always been supported by President Rodrigo Duterte.

While being interviewed for the feature-length documentary “Francesco,” Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time, calling for the partnerships to be protected by law.

According to the head of the Roman Catholic Church, homosexuals are “children of God and have a right to a family.”

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pontiff said.