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Bill protecting same-sex couples' property rights filed

Same-sex couples will enjoy property-rights protection heterosexual couples are enjoying if a bill filed in the House of Representatives will become a law.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman Jr. said the measure was a move to recognize the unions of members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community, even as more and more same-sex couples have already come out in the open.

“In the Philippines, homosexual behavior is interwoven in historical narrative and is now brought to the forefront by popular media. As more and more of our countrymen come out with such relationships and choose to [live together], it is incumbent upon us legislators to acknowledge and equate them to heterosexual couples,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker said the measure will govern property ownership by cohabiting same-sex couples, which would allow them to decide whether to co-own the properties they acquire while living together, or to maintain exclusive ownership individually.

Lagman said the bill seeks to protect the couple’s property not only from third parties but even from each other, similar to the protection given to heterosexual couples in prenuptial agreements.

Under the bill, same-sex couples who live together will be allowed to register their partnership with the local Civil Registrar, detailing the couple’s arrangement on their properties, which will either be co-owned or exclusive properties.

“Property laws are grounded on: first, recognition that partners make equal though different contributions to the financial well-being of the relationship and therefore equal division is a fair presumption to make if and when the partnership ends; second, ensure that the more financially vulnerable member of the partnership is protected if and when the relationship breaks up; and provide for a more expeditious process for resolving disputes," he said.

"These same rationales should apply to property relations of same sex couples who have opted to [live together] and register their partnership,” he added.

Lagman also earlier filed the so-called "My Husband’s Lover bill," which seeks to punish same-sex adultery. The bill got its name from the GMA prime-time soap opera which tackled the extra-marital affair of a man with another man. — LBG, GMA News