The Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Bill and laws legalizing same-sex marriage, divorce, and abortion still see no light at the end of the tunnel as the Philippine government has rejected the calls from a United Nations body to pass them.
This decision was made by the Philippine delegation to the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) led by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
Speaking on his radio program on Saturday, Nov. 19, Remulla explained that they rejected these recommendations as they are "not acceptable" in a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines.
"They want the SOGIE Bill for same-sex marriage to have the same as in their countries. So, that’s not acceptable for us. They really want a lot to be implemented here,” Remulla said in Filipino.
The SOGIE Bill has been continuously promoted by the LGBTQ community in the Philippines for years now. It recently resurfaced once again when a lawmaker filed a bill seeking to protect the religious beliefs of heterosexuals.
The UNHCR also recommended that the country adopts the legalization of abortion, as they consider this as a measure for respecting women’s rights over their body, as well as bills that would allow divorce and the total removal of the death penalty in the country.
While Remulla said that the law on divorce may have a chance to be enacted, he stressed, "Divorce, even though we want it, needs thorough discussion, given that ours is a Catholic nation."
The Philippines is the only country in the world that denies divorce to the majority of its citizens.
Remulla indicated that implementing the measure had been a challenge in the past as former Senate President Vicente Sotto III strongly opposed the measure and had blocked attempts to pass the bill in the Senate.
Speaking about death penalty, the justice chief emphasized that there needs to be a consultation between the three branches of government.
Meanwhile, among the recommendations that the Philippine government accepted were measures to conduct independent investigations, decongest prisons, protect human rights defenders and journalists, and promote the rights to education, health, as well as the adequate standard of living.