CATHOLIC-majority Philippines cannot legalise same-sex marriage, President Rodrigo Duterte said, citing restrictions under both civil and religious law.
Duterte, in an apparent about-turn from his open stance on the matter during his presidential campaign last year, also cited differences in cultural values and practices between Western nations and the Philippines.
Speaking to the Filipino community during his official two-day visit to Burma, the firebrand leader said the Philippines cannot legalise same-sex marriage unlike what has been done in the United States and several countries in Europe.
“There’s no gender, because you can be or she… that’s their culture. That’s only for them,” he said, as quoted by Rappler.
“That can’t be applied to us, we’re Catholics. And there is the Civil Code, which is you can only marry a woman for me, and for woman to marry a man. That’s the law in the Philippines.”
He insisted, however, that the decision in no way suggests intolerance towards homosexuals on his part. He pointed out that he has two gay brothers-in-law and several cousins.
“I have nothing against them, but you have to stick to where God placed you,” he said.
Duterte’s remarks were a departure from his openness to same sex-marriage during the presidential campaign period in 2016.
“Definitely, the gays were created by God… God made them so there is a slight error in the Bible. Adam, Eve, and the gays,” he had said during a leadership forum in January last year.
In the same speech, Duterte also questioned the Catholic concept of marriage, which propounds a union between a man and a woman with the sole intention of procreation.
“Why just create a man solely for the function that is a universal practice? We assume in our catechism that we are created in the image of God. Definitely, the gays were created by God and there has to be a reason for that.”
He did not expressly explain his position on same-sex marriage but maintained that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community should be respected.
“I have nothing to do with the sexual predilections of my fellow human beings. God must be kind to all. I have many friends, I have relatives, who are gay,” he said.
An estimated 80 percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholics, and while the country has been recognised as one of the few gay-friendly countries in the world, many conservative groups including the nation’s bishops have voice strong objections to same-sex marriages.