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HRW hoping SC, Congress recognize same-sex marriage

An international human rights group on Wednesday expressed hope that the Supreme Court's hearing on a petition for same-sex marriage would pave the way for equal marriage laws in the Philippines.

"If the Supreme Court rules that the provisions of the Family Code are unconstitutional and permits same-sex marriage, or the national legislature enacts a law allowing same-sex marriage, the Philippines will join Taiwan at the forefront of Asian countries with marriage equality," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.

The SC on Tuesday heard oral arguments on the 2015 petition by lawyer Jesus Falcis that challenged the Philippine Family Code limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

"Falcis argues that the marriage restrictions violate his rights to due process, equal protection, and forming a family under the Philippine Constitution," the HRW pointed out.

Also, the group cited House Bill 6595, filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, that seeks to create civil partnerships and grant same-sex couples “[a]ll benefits and protections as are granted to spouses in a marriage."

These benefits include "the ability to jointly adopt, inherit property, obtain tax benefits, and share insurance, health, and pension benefits."

While debated in January 2018, the bill has not been voted on.

In the meantime, the HRW urged senators to pass the nondiscrimination law approved by the House of Representatives in 2017 in order to protect the rights of LGBT Filipinos.

If passed by the senate, LGBT people will be protected by law from "discrimination in employment, education, health care, housing, public services, and other areas." —Rie Takumi/LBG, GMA News