TALISAY CITY, Philippines – Koalisyon ng Daang Matuwid senatorial candidate Mark Lapid said he would file a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in predominantly Catholic Philippines if he wins in the upcoming election.
Lapid, a Roman Catholic, said the rights of the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community should be respected by the state.
“I am for same-sex union and marriage. We’re not even talking of religious issues here. We’re talking about human rights,” he told reporters in a chance interview last Tuesday.
“If I get elected, that’s the first bill that I will file. The problem is we only make it a battle cry but we never went beyond that,” he added.
Lapid said the state should honor the LGBT community’s rights because its members have “played a significant role in our economy.”
“I’m not asking the religious sector to do it. I am just asking the government, the state, to give them (LGBT community) to give them rights equal to those of men and women,” he said.
When asked whether he risks alienating the Catholics who adhere to the Church teachings against homosexuality, Lapid said: “Let’s start the discussion and invite everybody concerned. At the end of the day, we’re a democratic country.”
“If it passes, it will pass. If not, then let’s respect the majority and wait for the right time to push it again and try it until everybody sees the equal opportunity before the law,” he added.
Pressed by journalists if he thinks the Philippines is ready for same-sex marriage, Lapid said: “We won’t know until we try.”
The debate on same-sex marriage resurfaced after senatorial candidate and champion boxer Emmanuel “Manny Pacquiao” said he is against homosexual relationships.
Pacquiao, a former Catholic turned evangelical Christian, said those into same-sex relationships are “worse than animals.”
The remark earned criticisms from members of the LGBT community and some celebrities who chided Pacquiao for his supposed intolerance and homophobia.
Pacquiao’s political allies and some internet users, however, believe the boxer’s views also deserve to be respected.
Pacquiao has apologized for his comment but maintained that he is still against same-sex marriage because he follows the teachings of the Bible.