The Philippines’ Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is third in line to the President, has said he will sponsor a bill for same-sex marriage and that his staff has already started drafting it.
He was reported saying: "If you look at the Constitution, there is a provision guaranteeing happiness for the Filipinos. Why would we deprive them of that? If they are happy with that, shouldn’t we support them?"
He was referring to a section of the Philippines constitution that says the state values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.
Alvarez confronted the fact that the bill may find resistance from the powerful Roman Catholic church. "My proposal is about civil union. We do not meddle with the affairs of the Church. There’s no problem if they don’t want it," he was quoted saying in a press conference.
"The beauty of democracy is we can argue and disagree, but at the end of the day, it is the majority that prevails," said the speaker.
Geraldine Roman, the country's first transwoman legislator, came out in support of the proposal.
"My personal stance is I am in favor of civil unions. I cannot be a hypocrite and say I recognize the equality of all citizens of our country, but at the same time tell two people who love each other that they cannot have their relationship recognized simply based on the basis of sexual orientation.”
But Alvarez’s comments were not welcomed by some lawmakers.
Danilo Suarez, the spokesperson for the minority party, told Rappler, ”Why do we even need to talk about that? The House will be divided. Our attention might be refocused. (President) Duterte is concentrated on drugs and peace and order. There's health, employment, education."
Another minority party member, Lito Atienza, said he was "disappointed" that Alvarez wanted to escalate the bill "in the midst of our busy schedule...I am committed to resist it."