Names of predominantly Catholic countries were brought up online following the Department of Justice‘s reason to reject recommendations to pass important bills.
These include the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Bill, and bills to legalize same-sex marriage, divorce and abortion.
The Philippine delegation declared this decision during the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland last week.
Defense Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla reportedly perceived these recommendations from the UNHRC as “not acceptable”, citing the country as a predominantly Catholic nation.
The defense chief further described them as “culturally reprehensible.”
“’Yung hindi lang natin tinanggap diyan, ‘yung mga culturally reprehensible,” Remulla was quoted in the report as saying.
The bills to recognize SOGIE rights, same-sex marriage, divorce and abortion are among the highly contested topics in the Philippines despite their passage benefiting vulnerable sectors of the society.
Remulla, in particular, earned the ire of advocates after he cited religion as the reason for the outright rejection of UNHRC’s calls.
They pointed out that several predominantly Catholic countries have already legalized same-sex marriage among their constituents.
“Even largely Catholic countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, and Mexico have instituted marriage equality and other laws for women and LGBTQIA+ persons,” Reyna Valmores of Bahaghari Philippines tweeted.
Others also made emphasis on Spain, which brought Catholicism to the Philippines.
“Spain, the empire which brought ‘Catholicism’ to the Philippines, legalized same-sex marriage since 2005,” one user tweeted.
Others also pointed out that granting rights to the LGBTQIA+ community will not affect the beliefs or rights of the rest of the citizens in the Philippines.
“Allowing same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights you have right now will absolutely do NOTHING to your beliefs. You will literally wake up the next day and not be affected by it. Can’t wait to have lawmakers who will actually work for the people and not their self-interests,” internist Jai Cabajar said.
Catholic countries and same-sex unions
The following are the top ten countries with the highest Catholic population, according to Catholic-Hierarchy.org:
- Brazil with 145 million
- Mexico with 123 million
- Philippines with 69.6 million
- USA with 64.6 million
- Italy with 57.7 million
- France with 44 million
- Colombia with 38 million
- Spain with 37 million
- Poland with 35 million
- Argentina with 34.5 million
Of these, only the following countries do not have laws that support same-sex marriages:
Italy has been recognizing same-sex civil unions since 2016.
Pointing out the reality
Other users also talked about the prevailing socio-political problems in response to Remulla’s argument to oppose these bills.
“It’s also a country where women and LGBTQ+ have to stick up for their dysfunctional, abusive, violent families,” sociologist Jayeel Cornelio tweeted.
“NEVER call this country a ‘pre-dominantly catholic nation’ when the government themselves participate in corruption, had a history in EJK during RD administration and violated human rights,” another user said.
“Mfs are so quick to bring up the Philippines being a predominantly Catholic country when talking about SOGIE, divorce laws, and abortion laws but you b****es were dead silent when it comes to the EJKs,” another user tweeted.
Remulla led the delegation comprising representatives from the DOJ, the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) secretariat, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the UN in Geneva.
Reports said that the UNCHR presented at least 297 recommendations there.
The Philippines rejected 97 of them.