Why law for LGBTQIA+ couples is needed in Philippines, according to Chel Diokno

June 29, 2022 - 7:20 PM
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Photo of LGBT couple exchange their vows last Saturday, February 12, 2022. (Facebook/Joy Belmonte)

The Philippines still does not have a law that protects the rights LGBTQIA+ couples, according to veteran rights lawyer Chel Diokno.

Diokno revealed this in response to a question if there are similar laws on conjugal properties that can be applied to same-sex couples.

He posted a graphic of the question on social media on June 29.

Part of it reads: “Atty. Ano iyong parang conjugal property ang arrangement tulad sa mga legal na kinakasal na puwede i-apply sa mga katulad naming may LGBTQIA+ partners?”

Diokno said LGBTQIA+ couples have brought up this concern to him many times in the past.

He said they were worried on what would happen to their properties in case they separate in the future.

“Sa kanilang pagsasama, nakapagpundar na sila ng ilang gamit at ari-arian gaya ng bahay, lupa at sasakyan ngunit sa kasamaang-palad ay naghiwalay rin kinalaunan. Ngayon, paano na ang hatian sa mga property na kanilang naipundar habang sila’y nagsasama? Ang hatian ba ng mga ari-arian ay gaya rin sa mga legal na ikinasal?” Diokno said.

To this, he explained that provisions on conjugal finances and properties are enshrined under the Family Code of the Philippines.

Unfortunately, the law only recognizes the union between a man and a woman.

“Sa ilalim ng Family Code, ang kinikilala lang kasi na kasal ay sa pagitan ng lalake at babae. Dahil diyan, lahat ng mga probisyon ng Family Code, gaya ng conjugal property at tungkol sa kasal, ay hindi applicable sa LGBTQIA+ community,” he said.

What the Family Codes says

In Article 43 of the Family Code, it was stated that the conjugal properties of married couples will be dissolved following the termination of marriage or legal separation.

Part of it reads: “The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall be dissolved and liquidated.”

The code also details measures on how the couples will divide their properties and residences in case they have children, or either party acted “in bad faith.”

For same-sex partners, Diokno cited the rules on co-ownership that they can invoke in the meantime for their separation woes.

These rules, however, still do not offer the same rights as that of the Family Code.

“Dahil wala pang batas na nakasasakop dito, tanging ang batas ukol sa co-ownership ang reresolba sa ganitong mga isyu. Subalit nakalulungkot sabihin na hindi sapat ang proteksiyon na binibigay nito, hindi gaya ng mga probisyong nakasaad sa ating Family Code,” he said.

Need to legalize civil unions

Diokno then highlighted the need for the country to pass a law that recognizes civil unions of same-sex couples for the protection of their rights.

“Matagal na nating isinusulong ang pagbalangkas ng ganitong uri ng batas para sa proteksiyon ng karapatan ng mga miyembro ng LGBTQIA+ community,” he said.

The former senatorial candidate further hoped that the next Congress will give enough attention to this need.

“Mas mainam kung magkakaroon tayo ng batas na kikilala sa civil union ng mga miyembro ng LGBTQIA+ para na rin sa kanilang proteksiyon sa ganitong mga sitwasyon,” Diokno said.

“Umaasa akong bibigyan ng sapat na atensiyon ng papasok na Kongreso ang kapakanan at karapatan ng LGBTQIA+ community at tututukan nila ang pagbuo ng batas pagdating sa civil union ng same-sex partners,” he added.