MANILA, Oct. 4 (PNA) — The country’s first transgender lawmaker, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, on Tuesday commended the plan of House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to file a bill legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples.
â€As a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, I want to congratulate the Speaker because he has been courageous enough to start the ball rolling and to start the discussions to deal with the reality that has existed since time immemorial,â€ Roman said in a news conference.
The lawmaker said that when she met Alvarez on Tuesday afternoon, the Speaker revealed that he is currently studying the â€œdifferent formulaeâ€ to address the needs and recognize the rights of same-sex relationships.
Top-billing his proposed measure are the inheritance of properties, the right to decide the future of the spouse if that person falls ill, and the possibility of adopting children.
â€œThe Speaker says he is open to all kinds of opinions so that he can reach a formula that is generally acceptable to all, especially among our colleagues here in Congress,â€ Roman said.
Alvarez also told Roman that the measure only covers civil rights, which should not be subject to religious beliefs.
In a press conference on Monday, Alvarez disclosed that his staff has already begun drafting the proposed same-sex union legislation, noting that he will sponsor the bill himself.
â€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, shouldnâ€™t we support them?â€ said Alvarez.
A provision of the 1987 Constitution stipulates that the â€œState values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rightsâ€.
Roman also shared that he has known Alvarez as a defender of equality, especially in protecting the rights of the LGBT community.
When asked about her personal stand on same sex unions, the Bataan lawmaker said she is in favor of the move.
“I cannot be a hypocrite and say I recognize 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 on the basis of their sexual orientation,” said Roman.
She also clarified she would not want to look at it as a fight against the Catholic Church but a fight for civil rights.
Roman urged critics to have an open mind toward the measure, stressing that they should take a look at it first before passing judgment.
“Maintain an open attitude. Pag-aralan muna kung ano yung nakahain sa atin (Study first what this bill will present to us). Let us not be too quick to judge,” she said.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman from the independent minority bloc said that the same-sex union bill is not among the House’s priorities.
Lagman explained that other key measures must precede before legally allowing union between same-sex couples.
â€œIf it (Congress) is ready for divorce, if it is ready for anti-discrimination against women, then most probably, subsequently it will be ready for that (same-sex union) legislation,â€ Lagman said.
â€œThere is a prioritization of what we have to do. We have to prioritize bills which are already filed and refiled,â€ he added. (PNA)