Does same-sex marriage have a chance in the Philippines?
Currently, a very hot and divisive issue here in Australia is the Government’s postal survey on the SSM or the Same Sex Marriage. From Sept.12-Nov.7, all Australian citizens are being asked to vote “Yes” or “No” in a survey form with this question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
If the Bible says in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”, then my conscience vote is clear.
However, most Aussies also consider SSMs’ economic and financial implications, the political dynamics, while others respect the rights of the LGBT or the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Even the Mayor of Sydney and some members of Parliament are officially endorsing the YES vote here using public funds. Featured in the news here were some public servants who advocated otherwise were sacked from their jobs!
Voting in this survey is not compulsory unlike in a regular election or referendum conducted by the AEC wherein failure to vote has a AUD$50 penalty here. But the postal survey is essentially a plebiscite. It is voluntary but occurs via post rather than at a polling booth. This is not handled by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) but by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It is officially known as the ‘Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.’
The Finance Minister in Australian Government allocated AUD$120 Million for this survey even without approval by the Parliament. Legitimate groups challenged this before the Supreme Court here partly because the AEC will be forced to turn over voters’ registration information to the ABS but SC ruled in favor of the ABS SSM survey.
In the Philippines, we are merely contemplating on legalizing divorce. But here, a Federal State, SSM may have a chance to be approved. According to an initial unofficial poll made as of 25 September, the it’s 57%-YES, 34%-NO, and 9%-Uncommitted. The official results will be revealed on November 25. If survey says ‘YES’, then there will be a chance for the Parliament to decide on this later this year through a “conscience vote” amongst Members of Parliament (MPs) and not through a Party vote, but there is no guarantee that will happen as they will not be bound by the result of the survey.