LGBT group speaks out against PH Congress’ online poll on same-sex unions

Photo: Unsplash/Peter Hershey
Photo: Unsplash/Peter Hershey

The Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network (LAGABLAB), a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations, said today that the Philippine House of Representatives shouldn’t determine LGBT rights based on the results of an online poll.

It was reacting to a poll released by the Lower House yesterday which asked respondents if same-sex civil partnerships should be legalized in the country.

“Since yesterday, it has been circulating in social media that the official website of the House of Representatives is conducting an online poll on whether the public is in favor of the Civil Partnership Bill that is pending in Congress,” it said in the statement.

LAGABLAB said that it was irresponsible for the House of Representatives to ask for public opinion on a nuanced issue “with such inadequate information and narrow choices.”

“Our Congress should not decide on our rights solely on the basis of personal opinions or mere online polls … Let our choices be informed and our voices be heard,” it added.

The online poll has since been taken down as of this morning but it initially asked respondents: “Are you in favor of the proposal in the House of Representatives which legalizes same-sex unions as civil partnership in the country?”

The choices were:

“Yes, because this will give equal civil rights to same-sex couples. The bill provides such couples with legal partnership status that will govern their property rights, custodial rights over children, and adoption rights,” and

“No, because the underlying intention is to legalize marriage between members of the same sex and I personally believe this is wrong.”

Respondents can also choose to say that they are undecided.

Photo: Screenshot of the same-sex union poll on Congress website
Photo: Screenshot of the same-sex union poll on Congress website

CNN Philippines reported last night that the survey had 65,216 respondents, with 38,332 or 59 percent saying they were against same-sex unions. Twenty-six thousand or 41 percent were in favor, while 3,397 or 1 percent were undecided.

LAGABLAB also slammed House Bill 6595 or the Civil Partnership Bill, the bill mentioned in the poll, and said that civil partnership is not the same as marriage equality.

The bill seeks to allow couples to enter into a civil partnership, whether they are of the opposite or of the same sex.

LAGABLAB said that while the bill provides protection and benefits for LGBT couples, it creates a distinction between married couples and civil partners, further creating a secondary status for members of the community. 

“[It’s] a dangerous consequence at a time when it is still legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” LAGABLAB said, referring to the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB). The ADB seeks to protect the rights of the LGBTQI members from discrimination. It was first filed in 2000 by the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago but is still in limbo.

The controversial online poll came ahead of June’s Pride Month, and just days after Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage — a first in Asia.

In 2015, lawyer Jesus Falcis III filed a petition before the Supreme Court that seeks to allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines. The Supreme Court tackled the issue through two rounds of oral arguments in June last year, but there have been no developments since.

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