Two months after first announcing his intention to do so, a lawmaker said he may file a bill legalizing civil unions between same-sex couples next year.
"Hopefully by next year, maipa-file na iyon (it will be filed)," House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez told media on Tuesday.
The bill, he said, will cover not only same-sex couples, but also heterosexual couples who do not wish to be bound by matrimony.
"It will cover not only same-sex [couples] kundi pati opposite na ayaw nilang magpakasal pero gusto nilang magsama, so at least merong regime dun sa kanilang union," Alvarez said.
(It will cover not only same-sex couples but heterosexual couples who want to be together, but do not wish to be married. At least there will be a system for their union.)
In October, Alvarez said that he wanted to file the civil union bill to let members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community know that the government respects their rights.
He said he was looking for a co-sponsor for the bill, which will not cover marriages solemnized by the Church.
The speaker's move was welcomed by his fellow lawmakers who advocated LGBT rights.
"It will pave the way for healthy discussions on these issues that affect the lives of millions of our kababayans in the LGBT community," said House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano.
Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman, the country's first transgender lawmaker, expressed interest in becoming a co-author of the bill.
"If explained well…I think we can convince a lot of people, usually ang sarado ang isip (those who are not receptive to the idea)…the sky will not fall if a civil union bill is passed," Roman said, alluding to the bill’s likely opponents such as the Catholic Church.
However, BUHAY party-list representative Lito Atienza and other lawmakers said they were “bothered” by Alvarez’s possible filing of the bill.
"We are ready to defend the rights of anyone especially those in the LGBT community. But marriage should exclusively be, as intended by nature, for a man and a woman," Atienza said.