MANILA (UPDATE) – A family law expert on Friday called for support to the protection of property rights among same-sex couples amid Pope Francis’ landmark endorsement of gay civil unions.
Lawyer Maria Soledad Mawis, dean of the Lyceum of the Philippines University College of Law, said same-sex couples who live together must enjoy property ownership, similar to the protection given to heterosexual couples.
“Sa aking pananaw, dapat bigyan ng protection at the very least, ang property man lang,” she told Teleradyo’s “Gising Pilipinas”.
(In my opinion, they should be given protection, at the very least, with their properties.)
Under Article 147 of the Family Code, a man and a woman in a live-in relationship shall have equal shares of wages and salaries while property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
While she believed the Philippines, Asia’s bastion of Catholicism, is not ready for same-sex marriage, Mawis said the public must at least be ready for moves to protect the rights of LGBT+ people.
“Hindi pa tayo handa pero dapat paghandaan ‘yan dahil itong mga tao naman ho eh nagmahal naman din. Dapat magkaroon sila ng malinaw na batas kung saan sila ay maproteksiyonan,” she said.
(We are not yet ready but we must be because these people have fallen in love. They must have a clear law where they are protected.)
In a documentary called "Francesco" released on Wednesday, the Pontiff said that gay couples needed legal rights and that "homosexual people have a right to be in a family," some of his clearest language on the subject since his election in 2013.
"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," he said.
"What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that," he added.
The Catholic Church teaches that same-sex attraction is not sinful, but homosexual acts are, even though LGBT+ people should be treated with dignity.
Two bills seeking civil partnerships for same-sex couples remained pending in the 18th Congress of the House of Representatives.
In House Bill 1357 authored by Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, she said same-sex couples could not declare their partners as beneficiaries under social security and insurance plans, and inherit intestate rights.
“These restrict basic liberties that are available to most citizens despite these couples taking part in loving, committed and long-term relationships,” she said in her explanatory note.
In a similar proposed measure, former House Speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez said it was time for the Philippines to grant same-sex couples legal protection to recognize their partnerships, respect their dignity and recognize equality before the laws.
“Ultimately, at the core of a civil partnership are 2 fully consenting adults who, like many Filipinos, merely wish to love, care and support each other as they build a life together during their fleeting time here on earth,” he said.
The Supreme Court, in January 2020 decision, denied with finality a motion seeking to allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines.
The high court earlier dismissed the petition in September 2019 on account of lack of standing of petitioner Jesus Falcis, violation of principle of hierarchy of courts and failing to raise actual, justiciable controversy.
The country's existing laws limit marriages between man and woman as mandated in the Family Code. - With a report from Reuters