Palace reiterates: Duterte backs SOGIE equality bill and same-sex civil union

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 5) — Malacañang on Thursday asserted that President Rodrigo Duterte backs legislation that ensures equal rights to all regardless of their sexual orientation as heated debate on the SOGIE Equality Bill is reignited online.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte continues to support the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill and civil union to protect same-sex couples.

"Itong SOGIE bill naman ay itinataguyod din ang karapatan na maging pantay-pantay ang lahat ng Pilipino, suportado rin iyan ng Presidente," he said in a media briefing. "Sang-ayon po siya sa na magkaroon ng batas na iiral doon sa relasyon ng kaparehong kasarian."

[Translation: The SOGIE bill fights for equal rights, this is supported by the President. He agrees that there should be a law to protect same-sex relationships.]

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The spokesman stressed the President is still against same-sex marriages, whether it be a church or civil wedding. A civil union gives the same legal rights to same-sex couples without the title of a "marriage" — a compromise of the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community in the predominantly-Catholic Philippines.

Despite his support, Duterte will not interfere in a matter that concerns the Congress, Roque said.

Both pro- and anti-SOGIE bill hashtags are trending online after the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality continued its deliberations on the controversial bill on Wednesday.

A resource person from the Coalition of Concerned Families of the Philippines, lawyer Lyndon Caña, falsely claimed that the LGBTQIA+ community is becoming a "super special, elite class" compared to other citizens. He also drew the ire of Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, the country's first transgender woman lawmaker, when he said that necrophelia and pedophilia could easily be protected through the bill due to lack of clear boundaries on the "plus sign" in the term.