, MANILA, Aug 31 – Leaders of the Philippines’ dominant Catholic church have called on individuals and politicians to actively oppose same-sex marriage, after new efforts by activists to have same-sex unions legalised in the conservative nation.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement Sunday saying individuals should refuse to take part in ceremonies celebrating same-sex relationships and politicians should resist legalising marriages of homosexual couples.
“A homosexual union is not and can never be a marriage as properly understood and so-called,” the CBCP said in the statement posted on its website.
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and the family.”
It added that Catholic lawmakers have “a moral duty” to express their “opposition clearly and publicly” and to vote against a law.
CBCP president Bishop Socrates Villegas confirmed to AFP on Monday that the statement was the position of the church, which is followed by more than 80 percent of Filipinos.
The statement comes as activists push to have same-sex unions legalised, which would require a law to be passed in the deeply conservative country where divorce and abortion are still illegal largely due to Catholic pressure.
Earlier in August, two same-sex couples applied for marriage licences in a Manila suburb but were turned down. They later brandished a sign saying “We were denied” in front of a rainbow flag.
Small independent churches aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have also sprung up, sometimes conducting unofficial “weddings” for their members, while several Filipino celebrities have come out in favour of same-sex marriage.
The LGBT community have meanwhile been increasingly vocal about the issue on social media.
While expressing compassion for homosexuals, the CBCP said “sexual attraction towards the same sex is… in the light of our understanding of marriage, objectively disordered.”
Gay rights have been in the spotlight around the world following the US Supreme Court’s landmark ruling to legalise gay marriage in June.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Taiwan in July calling for the legalisation of gay marriage, while pressure is mounting on the Australian government for a parliamentary vote on the subject.