Filipino Bishops Reverse Position on LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill

Archbishop Socrates Villegas in preparations for the papal visit

In a reversal from their earlier position, the Catholic bishops of the Philippines have endorsed an LGBT non-discrimination bill, with only one reservation.

Earlier this month, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines sent a pastoral guidance letter to dioceses endorsing non-discrimination as a “Christian imperative,” reports Gay Star News. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the conference’s president, said further:

” ‘Insofar as the proposed piece of legislation renders illegitimate the relegation of persons with sexual orientation and gender identity issues to citizens of a lower category enjoying fewer rights, the CBCP cannot but lend its support to this proposed legislative measure.’

” ‘We must however reiterate that none must be demeaned, embarrassed, or humiliated for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity.’ “

This support comes as legislators are about to pass a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity bill, which the bishops opposed in 2011. During a committee hearing earlier this year, a representative of the conference actually opposed this current bill saying some forms of discrimination were acceptable. The only caveat desired by the bishops now is that they retain full control of who is admitted into the priesthood, reserving the right to discriminate including due to sexual orientation.

The bishops’ initial opposition to protecting the rights of all people has clearly changed.  Perhaps it is due to Pope Francis’ recent visit and his ongoing emphasis on mercy and the dignity of all persons: the Francis Effect. Now, Archbishop Villegas is telling Filipino Catholics that sexual orientation and gender identity are gifts from God and, as such, are not chosen. What other fruits can we expect for LGBT equality in this heavily Catholic nation?

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

1 reply
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    Hey Bob! Just a couple of observations:

    1. The opening quoted statement by the bishops is so rhetorically convoluted that I had to read it three times, to confirm that they were actually coming out in favor of gender equality and non-discrimination, rather than against it. They need a new press officer who speaks (or at least writes) fluent idiomatic English!

    2. The phrase, “What other fruits can we expect for LBGT equality….” hits a bit of a clunker note — given the disparaging double-entendre attached to the word “fruits” in this context. My immediate response was “Ouch”! Anyway…one small step…I suppose…but the entire Church still has a very long journey ahead of it, in order to become truly inclusive and welcoming for ALL Catholics.


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