The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is now training its guns on the anti-discrimination bill, saying the possible enactment of the bill into law would open the door for the legalization of same sex marriages, according to reports.
Speaking at a weekly forum in Greenhills, San Juan City, on Wednesday, lawyers of the CBCP and a Catholic bishop hit the Senate for amending the previous version of the anti-discrimination bill or the Senate Bill 2814.
The Senate has recently passed on third reading the bill which is after penalizing all forms of discrimination. The SB 2814, known as Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011, will be discussed by a bicameral conference committee tasked to harmonize the Senate bill with similar bills passed by the House.
Ronald Reyes, a lawyer of the CBCP, said they had no qualms about the bill before but became concerned when the bill was amended and “sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity” were included.
“It’s opening the door for same sex marriages, which our country doesn’t allow,” Reyes told reporters. He said the Catholic church, which would not officiate same sex marriages, might be punished if the bill became law. “This is alarming and it might change our society,” Reyes said.
Another CBCP lawyer Jo Imbong said the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender) should not be considered the same as the elderly, the handicapped, and the poor. “These people are disadvantaged not by their own choice. But the third sex, they choose this. How can you give protection to a choice like that?” Imbong said.
Imbong said the bill violated religious freedom and the “no prior restraint” accorded by the law to freedom of speech. “The government may not penalize a religious organization for … excluding a person from Church responsibilities, for example, based upon that person’s moral behavior which could include the practice or promotion of homosexuality,” she said.
The bill would hinder the Church from teaching what it believed to be right or wrong, Imbong said. The lawyer noted that under the bill, the priest who refused to officiate same sex marriages may be fined with P500,000 and jailed for 25 years.
Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes said the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the CBCP has been appealing to the Senate and the House of Representatives to exclude the LGBT from the bill.