Filipino LGBT in Europe asks gov't to allow foreign spouses in PH

Jofelle F. Tesorio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 10 2020 12:20 PM

Filipino LGBT in Europe asks gov't to allow foreign spouses in PH 1
Members of the Filipino LGBT Europe during the distribution of grocery vouches and packages to Filipinos in the Netherlands whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy Filipino LGBT Europe 

AMSTERDAM - A group of LGBTs in Europe has appealed to the Philippine government to allow Filipino LGBT and same-sex couples to enter the country, especially this Christmas season.
Through the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No 85, Filipinos and their foreign spouses and children are allowed to enter the Philippines beginning December 7, 2020 but the travel advisory is not explicit whether it includes married same-sex couples.

In an appeal to IATF, sent to different Philippine embassies in Europe, the Filipino LGBT Europe said the government should clarify whether the term ‘spouse’ in the advisory includes same-sex / LGBT partners that are legally recognized in many European countries. 

"Currently, the travel advisory does not allow a foreigner to enter the Philippines, unless in the company of Filipino spouses," the group added. 
The group added that it is fully aware of the strict concept of “spouse” under the Philippine family code, but “we also believe that the advisory should be inclusive of our LGBT siblings.”
“Ang definition po kasi ng spouse according sa ating Family Code ay limited lamang sa male and female. And because of this, we would like to ask a clear definition kung kasama po ba kami sa definition na ito? Kasi po dito po sa Europe katulad ng Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, France, nire-recognize po ang same-sex marriage,” said Chris Sta. Brigida-Kopp, chairperson of the Filipino LGBT Europe.
(The definition of spouse is limited to male and female according to the Philippines’ Family Code. Because of this, we would like to ask a clear definition if we (LGBTs) are included in this definition. In Europe like the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, France, same-sex marriage is recognized).
Sta. Brigida-Kopp, a British-Filipino, is married to a Dutch-Austrian. Their wedding took place in the Netherlands, the first country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage. About 29 countries, and almost all in Europe, recognize same-sex marriage or union. The Philippines and The Vatican have not yet legalized same-sex marriage.
With the Christmas holidays, travel restrictions have been eased in the Philippines. The Executive Order No. 408 series of 1960 (which is part of the Balikbayan Program), which sets guidelines allowing former Filipinos with their foreign spouses and children to enter the Philippines without visa for one year, has been restored.
“A significant number of the members of LGBT community would like to travel to the Philippines in the hope that they would not only celebrate Christmas, a tradition that is very close to every Filipino, but more importantly, to support their respective families that have been devastated by the recent natural calamities,” said Sta. Brigida, adding that their spouses are important part of their lives whom they want to also be with them when they come home to the Philippines.
His group appealed to the government to define “spouse” to be inclusive of same-sex / LGBT partners because if it’s not the case, the group argued that this policy could be potentially discriminating against members of the LGBT community.
In its statement, the group said a "modern civilized society" should not discriminate citizens based on gender and sexual orientation.
“In the interest of justice and humanitarian consideration, we appeal to the Philippine government to make this an inclusive travel advisory that respects and recognizes the rights of LGBT Filipinos and their spouses,” the group said.