President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday criticized changing attitudes on gender identity, warning that these were an attempt to impose Western values on Philippine society.
"Tingnan mo ang Time magazine ngayon. Wala nang gender, because you can be a he or a she... look at the cover of Time magazine," he told members of the Filipino community in Myanmar, where he arrived for an official visit on Sunday.
Duterte wandered into the topic after claiming that the European Union—which had expressed its concern over the possible return of the death penalty and the growing death toll from Duterte's war on drugs—was trying to impose its culture and beliefs on the Philippines.
"'Yun ang kultura nila; di kayo lang," he said. "'Di 'yan pwede sa atin kay Katoliko kami and there is the civil code which is you can only marry a woman, for me, and for a woman to marry a man. 'Yan ang batas natin...at bakit papasok itong mga gender?"
Duterte added that he has two gay brothers-in-law and some gay cousins, apparently to stress that he is fine with homosexuality. "Wala akong ano," he said. "Pero kung saan ka pinuwesto ng Diyos, diyan ka lang. Huwag mong haluin kaming lahat. Biro mo, ako ang Presidente tapos you erase the great divide between a woman and a man."
Time's cover story is not merely about sexuality but also about gender identity, including transgender identity.
"The piece explores how you-do-you young people are questioning the conventions that when it comes to gender and sexuality, there are only two options for each: male or female, gay or straight," said the magazine in its description of the article.
"Those aspects of identity—how one sees themselves as a man or woman, for instance, and who they are drawn to physically and romantically—are distinct but undergoing similar sea changes, as teenagers and 20-somethings reject notions of what society has told them about who they are supposed to be."
The World Health Organization defines gender identity as "each person's deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms."
The WHO also explained that gender identity existed on a spectrum, given that an individual's gender identity was not necessarily confined to an identity that is completely male or completely female.
"When an individual's gender identity differs from their assigned sex, they are commonly considered to be transgender, gender fluid, and/or gender queer. Whereas when an individual's gender identity aligns with their assigned sex, they are commonly considered cisgender." — Barbara Marchadesch/DVM, GMA News