Possibly in lieu of Pride Month, the Philippine Congress recently held a poll on the issue of same-sex unions. They asked whether the public believed that the Philippines should legalize these unions. This has always been a heated issue within the Philippines due to personal, and often religious, beliefs. But let’s take a step back to consider both sides of the issue as neutrally as possible.
An interesting idea that even some members of the LGBTQ+ community hold are that the Philippines isn’t ready to legalize same-sex unions. This isn’t simply to say that backlash or unfavorable opinion should be enough to stop basic human rights. Rather, it’s a question of where efforts and resources should be funneled — on what legislation should be prioritized for the LGBTQ+ community.
There are some that argue that the priority of the LGBTQ+ community should, as of now, be pointed towards actualizing anti-discriminatory policies. While marriage definitely is a landmark right and something that should be strived towards in the future, it may be more important in the present to achieve protections for this highly marginalized group. As of now, there are no specific policies which protect the LGBTQ+ community on the basis of sex and gender.
With the ADB bill having been filibustered in Congress, the LGBTQ+ community is left more vulnerable to hate crimes, offensive language, and even professional discrimination. Since movements always have a limited amount of resources, there are those that maintain that perhaps the issue of same-sex unions can take a backseat in the meantime.
Theoretical critique of same-sex marriage, on the other hand, argues that marriage is heteronormative. According to Jyl Josephson, opting into marriage as an LGBTQ+ couple forces you to conform to the roles of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ and all the baggage that comes with it. It assigns one member as the dominant male, and the other as the subservient female. While it recognizes that marriage has become more equal in recent years, the overarching stigma still exists.
Marriage is also believed to reinforce existing social, economic, and political hierarchies as well as behaviors. This happens because even in countries where same-sex unions have been legalized, it is not equally accessible to all. It is still only an option for those who can afford to be married, to those who live in generally open and accepting areas. The marriage quest creates a set of exclusionary practices in this regard.
Despite all that, marriage remains the battle cry of the LGBTQ+. Why? Because granting the right to marriage affirms the equality of citizenship that these people possess. It shows that LGBTQ+ individuals deserve the same treatment afforded any other citizen. It is a claim to political personhood in that gaining access to civil marriage or unions enables different rights and privileges that have so far been withheld from them. Same-sex unions are the most explicit public recognition of LGBTQ+ relationships possible.
In that way, people believe fighting for same-sex unions is a drastic but necessary starting point to access equal rights. Once granted, it dispels the justification for refusing to give anything else. This is because marriage, as a fundamental right, is one of the ultimate tools to recognize the dignity of a person. Other policies and protections for the LGBTQ+ community should then be easier to win once the State has given its irrevocable recognition.
Ultimately, the struggle for same-sex unions continues because of the fact that marriage is a basic human right. It is fundamental and ought not to be taken away from a person. If we value consent and freedom of choice with regards to getting married in that we never force anyone into marriage, then in the same vein we ought never to deprive one of marriage either.
Do you think the Philippines should adopt same-sex unions? Tell us why or why not in the comments!