With the recent progress of House Bills 6027 and 6595, more popularly known as the divorce bill and same-sex marriage bill, respectively, proponents say the Philippines is set to finally join the ranks of countries that have modernized their laws on marriage and family relations.
The divorce bill just passed its second reading in the House of Representatives while the same-sex marriage bill is currently ongoing deliberations.
The Philippines is one of few countries left that outlaws divorce. While same-sex marriage is not widely accepted, many countries now recognize it. (Same-sex marriage is legal nationwide in the United States and in Canada and in other parts of the world, e.g., United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany.)
The authors say it is about time our legislators seriously consider the proposed laws.
This liberal trend toward marriage should not mean, however, that no other reforms are needed. Indeed, we should also consider closing existing gaps found in our present laws to make them fairer.
Of note is House Bill 2352 which seeks to punish same-sex adultery, i.e., extramarital relations with people of the same sex. Currently, there is no law punishing infidelity when it is committed with the same sex. Consequently, spouses whose partners have cheated on them are left without redress.
The proposed bill seeks to correct this. It expands the coverage of Article 333 of the Revised Penal Code by providing that adultery may also be committed by any married man or woman engaging in sexual relations with another person of the same sex. The third party who has knowledge of the married person’s status is also punishable as well regardless of his or her sexual orientation.
Indeed, if we are to truly modernize our laws on marriage and afford equal opportunity for all (the divorce bill, like the same-sex marriage bill, does not make a distinction as to which kind of couples, heterogeneous or homosexual, may file for its benefits), everyone, including the third gender, must be willing to share the burden. We must also opt for a holistic approach, rather than a piecemeal approach, towards legislation to discuss these bills side by side.
Hopefully, Congress will consider and expedite House Bill 2352 when it decides to finally pass House Bills 6027 and 6595.