SC applicant rejects same-sex marriage, says LGBTQIA ‘not minority’

MANILA, Philippines – Law professor Jeremy Benigno Gatdula defended before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Friday, June 21, his strong opposition against same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions in the Philippines.

“I feel that that is not a valid definition of marriage, it is not contributory to common good, I believe that marriage is not created by the State but rather has been recognized by the State and that marriage is between a man and a woman in a comprehensive marriage which a same sex marriage is not,” Gatdula told the JBC, which is screening him and 23 other applicants for a vacancy at the SC to replace retiring Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo.

Gatdula said there is no legal basis to allow marriage between homexuals because the 1987 Constitution, the Family Code, and the Civil Code, supposedly all refer to a marriage as between a man and a woman.

“We interpret the constitution as it was meant or understood by the people at the time that they ratified it,” Gatdula told JBC member former justice Noel Tijam.

Gatdula also acted as intervenor-oppositor in the ongoing same-sex marriage petition pending before the Supreme Court (SC). That petition by young lawyer Jesus Falcis III argues that the Family Code provisions limiting marriage to a man and a woman only constitute grave abuse of discretion because the Constitution did not define marriage as solely between a man and a woman.  

Civil unions

Former justice Jose Mendoza, the usual tough questioner on the JBC panel, grilled Gatdula on his stance even more and asked whether members of the LGBTQIA+ deserve the rights that can be afforded to them by a civil union.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said during oral arguments on same-sex marriage that same-sex civil union is constitutional based on the constitutional right to freedom of association.

Gatdula said that members of the LGBTQIA+ already enjoy all rights.

“Most of the things they are asking for are actually protected under current laws, there may be some revisions needed perhaps for adoption, for SSS, GSIS, getting of benefits, but for a greater part, a lot I think is already covered by the bill of rights, civil code and the criminal law,” said Gatdula.

Gatdula added: “The question is why should the recognition and rights be given to them over and above what is given to other people?”

When Mendoza asked Gatdula to specify the rights given to LGBTQIA+ that are “over and above” an “ordinary human being,” the law professor answered employment.

Gatdula said labor disputes over companies turning away applicants or discriminating against employees who are LGBTQIA+ create a confusing standard.

“Scientifically when we’re talking of homosexuality, we’re talking about something that’s within the subjective mind of a person, there’s no blood that can be drawn, there’s no muscle tissue that can be taken to be able to indicate that a person is indeed homosexual or not, so if for example you have a person turned away from a job application, there’s no way for a person to prove that he is indeed homosexual, we just have to take his word for it, neither can the employer be able to defend himself because there’s no way for him to be able to tell if that person is indeed homosexual or not,” Gatdula said.

'Not minority' 

Gatdula also used the example of a transgender woman who also identifies as a lesbian.

“So how will it be possible for us to construct a legal system to be able to account for something that even the scientific community is having a difficulty with?” said Gatdula, who said he wants to limit the term to LGBT only and not include the QIA+.

LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.

Gatdula added that members of the LGBTQIA+ should not be considered a minority sector.

“They clearly have leadership in media, they have clear leadership in business and politics. They can make the mayor of Manila do a gay pride parade whereas all other sectors cannot do so. They can make multinationals create an entire marketing programs to support their cause. I do not see how that can be a discriminated sector when they’re holding so much power in society,” said Gatdula. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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