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Philippines Supreme Court refuses to legalize same-sex marriages


In this file photo, members of the LGBTQ community stage a protest march near the presidential palace to denounce President Rodrigo Duterte as they mark Pride Month on June 28, 2019 in Manila, Philippines. (Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

The Philippines’ highest court has thrown out a petition to legalize same-sex marriages.

It ruled that because the applicant didn’t have a partner he hadn’t suffered from current marriage laws, therefore he can’t claim to be a victim of discrimination.

In 2015, Jesus Falcis, a lawyer and radio show host asked the Supreme Court to declare Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code — which define marriage as the union between a man and a woman — unconstitutional.

“I am out since the age of 15 and I suffered from discrimination throughout my school years, so I felt the need to advocate for LGBT rights,” said Falcis, according to CNN. “I decided to use the tool of litigation, because it has been successful in other countries — such as the United States — to have gay marriage legalized.”

But on Tuesday, the court made a unanimous decision to dismiss the petition on technical grounds. According to a summary of the ruling, the 33-year-old failed to “raise an actual, justiciable controversy.”

“I don’t have a partner and therefore can’t be considered as having suffered from the consequences of a law which bans gay marriage,” he explained, as reported by CNN.

The decision came despite an acknowledgment from the court that the constitution, which was drafted in 2015, "does not define or restrict marriage on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”

Additionally the court “recognized the protracted history of discrimination and marginalization faced by the LGBTQI+ community, along with their still ongoing struggle for equality,” according to a press statement.

Still, it refused to change the law.

Falcis called the decision “disheartening,” but he hasn’t lost hope.

When he filed the petition in May 26, 2015, Falcis explained that the reason he’d become a lawyer was “to challenge unconstitutional and oppressive laws," Falcis said, according to Philippines news site GMA News Online.

“The fight for equality cannot wait. As soon as I passed the bar, I started preparing to write the petition. The longer time passes the longer gays are discriminated,” he added.

The ruling, however, is not a final decision on the matter of same-sex unions, according to Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, who said that “the opinions expressed there will not be controlling, [and] we can’t call any as a precedent," Philippines-based online news portal Rappler reported.

“This is a temporary setback," Falcis said. "In other countries from the U.S. to Australia to Taiwan, they had to lose before they won marriage equality. The Philippines will be no different.”