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Why the Pope's Support for Same-Sex Unions Matters to LGBT

With or without the Vatican's full support, his words hold weight.
by Ara Eugenio
Oct 23, 2020
Photo/s: AFP

Can Pope Francis' categorical support for same-sex civil unions undo centuries of deprivation for LGBT couples? Those leading the fight for marriage equality say it's a start.

For couple Grace Gregorio and Eloisa Hernandez reality set in after the thrill of reading about news that the beloved Pontiff said LGBT couples are children of God and "have the right to a family."

"Pope Francis' expression of support for same sex union is not only a reflection of his kindness but of his courage as the head of an age-old institution," Gregorio and Hernandez said in a joint response to reportr.

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"We may not see the sanctification of same sex marriage by the Church. More than anything, what is important to couples like us are the legal implications of the recognition of such union," they said.

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According to them, the Pope's move can and should pave the way for the passing of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression Equality (SOGIE) Bill as well as the legalization of civil unions in the Philippines.

"Marriage connotes a religious ceremony. What we are after is the legalization of same-sex civil unions so we can can have access to benefits, rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual couples such as work benefits, pension, insurance, ownership of assets, medical decisions, and the like," Eloisa Hernandez said.

Malacanang said lawmakers should heed the Pope's call, conservatives, however, including Senate President Tito Sotto said he doubts civil union for gay couples will pass. Strict Catholicism has long influenced lawmaking in the Philippines, until 2012, the country had no law on free birth control. Sen. Manny Pacquiao also once described gays as "worse than animals."


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While he is for civil unions, Francis is less accepting of gay marriage. His most recent comments were from a documentary called "Francesco."

Leo Battad, an LGBT rights lawyer and professor at the UP College of Law said there is a need to "manage expectations" from the Pope's statement.

"At this point of history, we cannot expect more from him, or from the Catholic Church. At the very least, it provides a strong support and endorsement for the passage of legal rights of gay couples," they told reportr.

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