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Philippine church leaders bemoan President Rodrigo Duterte's support for same-sex marriage

(Reuters/Dondi Tawatao)Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a news conference on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Pasay, metro Manila, Philippines, November 14, 2017.

Leaders of the Catholic Church and Evangelical churches in the Philippines have expressed their objection to President Rodrigo Duterte's support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Catholic-majority country.

Speaking to an LGBT group in Davao city on Sunday, Duterte said that he wants to introduce same-sex marriage in the Philippines.

"I want same-sex marriage. The problem is we'll have to change the law. But we can change the law," the president said.

"The law says marriage is a union between a man and a woman. I don't have any problems making it marrying a man, marrying a woman or whatever is the predilection of the human being," he added.

The president's remark was immediately criticized by the Philippine Catholic and Evangelical church leaders, arguing that marriage of the people of the same sex in a church "is impossible."

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes issued a statement saying the Catholic Church could never approve of such unions and called on Filipinos not to allow it.

"The trivialization of marriage is one of the fundamental reasons [for] the breakdown of individuals and human society," the bishop said, according to Inquirer.

Bastes stressed that the Church holds that marriage can only be between a man and a woman for the procreation of children and the building of the family.

Meanwhile, Bishop Noel Pantoja of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) warned that the recognizing same-sex unions could harm "not only the Christian faith but also the morality and very destiny of our nation."

"It will only marginalize religion and thus cause the very discrimination it seeks to avoid," Pantoja argued, adding that same-sex marriage contradicts not only the teachings of Christianity but also Islam.

The PCEC had raised concerns about House Bill NO. 4982, also known as the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression equality bill, as well as House Bill No. 6595, or the civil partnership bill, which would recognize licensed unions of LGBT couples.

According to UCA News, the Philippine president had previously expressed his opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage because it is prohibited by the country's Civil Code.

The president's previous statement had been welcomed by the country's church leaders, saying they are grateful for respecting the "sanctity of marriage."

Duterte's allies in Congress had also said that passing a law that would allow same-sex unions was not among the president's priorities.

Catholic bishops had voiced their concerns over the legalization of same-sex marriage when Duterte's ally in the House of Representatives, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, introduced a measure that would recognize gay unions.

During his speech in Davao, the president did not reveal details about how same-sex marriage will be legalized, but he stressed that he cared nothing for the Church's opposition.

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