MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday 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, Duterte vowed to protect the rights of homosexuals and invited them to nominate a representative to work in his government.
“There will be no oppression and we will recognize your importance in society. I said I am for sex marriage. If that is the trend of the modern times, if that will add to your happiness, I am for it,” the President said in his speech during the 7th LGBT-Davao’s yearend gathering at Azuela Cove’s The Tent.
This was contrary to what he said last March 19 when spoke before a Filipino community in Myanmar during a two-day official visit there.
“Wala nang gender, because you can be he or she… ‘yan ang kultura nila. Kayo lang. ‘Di ‘yan puwede sa amin, Katoliko kami. At there is the Civil Code, which is you can only marry a woman for me, and for woman to marry a man. ‘Yan ang batas natin,” he said while he was in Myanmar.
[There’s no gender, because you can be or she… that’s their culture. That’s only for them. That can’t be applied to us, we’re Catholics. And there is the Civil Code, which is you can only marry a woman for me, and for woman to marry a man. That’s the law in the Philippines.]
“Dalawang brother-in-law ko gay. May mga pinsan ako na gay, wala akong ano, pero kung saan ka pinuwesto ng Diyos, diyan ka lang,” he added.
[I have two brothers-in-law who are gay. I have cousins who are gay, I have nothing against them, but you have to stick to where God placed you.]
Nine months after his anti-same-sex marriage pronouncement, Duterte changed his position and assured the LGBT community of his support, adding that he would do everything during his presidency for the country to legally recognize same-sex unions.
“You know, kung ano ‘yong kaligayahan ng tao, ibigay ko. Bakit mo pigilan [You now, I will give whatever makes a person happy. Why would you stop them]? Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passé, bahaw na [that is already leftover rice]?” the President said.
“So I am with you. And just let me you know, you have your Mayor, si Inday (Sara Duterte]. And we’ll try to solve the things that we want to have during my term,” he added.
He also 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.
Many countries, mostly in Western Europe and the Americas, have already recognized same-sex unions. Australia is the latest to legalize it.
Catholic bishops in the Philippines, who also oppose Duterte’s bloody anti-narcotics campaign, have voiced concern over legalizing same-sex marriage after his top ally in Congress vowed earlier this year to push for it.