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Public hearings on bill on rights of same-sex couples launched.

By Ben Rosario

There were no objections so far against the bill proposing to recognize the civil partnership of same sex couples and granting them the same rights as heterosexual couples in adoption of children, social security, insurance and inheritance through intestate rights.

At the launch of the public hearings for House Bill 6595, various government and non-government organizations backed the legislative proposal authored by House officials led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

HB 6595 or the proposed Civil Partnership Act, proposes to provide civil rights, benefits and responsibilities to couples previously unable to marry, by giving them recognition and protection from the State.

"It protects civil partnership couples by penalizing unlawful and discriminatory practices committed by persons or institutions against them on the basis of their civil partnership status," authors said.

HB 6596 is clearly a bill that allows a same-sex couple to enjoy nearly all civil partnership rights that are, under the law, limited only to legally married heterosexual couples.

House leaders have apparently come up with such measure overcome the strong objection of the Catholic church against previous proposals for the legalization of same sex marriages.

"It is about time that the Philippine government grant couples, whether they are of the opposite or the same sex, adequate legal instruments to recognize their partnerships, respecting their dignity and recognizing their equality before the law," said Alvarez and other principal authors in the explanatory note of the measure.

During the hearing conducted by the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality, resource persons from the Department of Labor, Commission on Human Rights and the Government Service Insurance System aired their support to the measure, as they noted no contradiction between the measure and their respective mandates.

The Lagablab Network, a coalition of lesbian, gay, transgender organizaitons, lauded Alvarez for "proving to be an ally of the LGBT community".

However, lawyer Jazz Tamayo, Lagablab network representative and executive director of Rainbow Rights Philippines, called the attention of the authors with regards to the provisions on adoption.

"We are concerned that this provision in the bill will render same-sex civil partners as second class citizens in exercising the rights to adoption by making them secondary choice for adoptive parents when there are no nmarried coupoles willing to adopt the child," Tamayo pointed out.

On the other hand, Agbiag Partylist Rep. Michelle Antonio cautioned her colleagues against the contradictions between the provisions of the bill and the constitutional provisions relating to family and marriage.

She vowed support for provision of the bill that will apply only to members of the LGBT community, saying that they cannot be deprived the rights that others enjoy.

"However, as to non-members of the LGBT community, this bill runs contrary to what our Constitution says, and it seems unnecessary," Antonio said.

She added: "Aside from being unconstitutional, the bill is also unnecessary because the Family Code already sufficiently protects the property rights of couples from the opposite sex."

Antonio warned that if enacted, HB 6596 will effectively allow all unmarried couples, regardless of sex, to choose between entering into marriage or a civil partnership agreement, and "give to them the same rights, obligations, benefits and privileges as accorded to married couples under the Fmaily Code and other cited laws on marital and family relations."


(AFP Photo/Oliver BUNIC) Manila Bulletin
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Jan 31, 2018
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