Philippine Status Quo

The way things stand for LGBT rights in the Philippines in 2012:

  • Legality of same-sex sexual activity:  Legal.  There is no law against consensual sex between two men or two women, however, Article 200 of the Penal Code (the so-called "Grave Scandal" prohibition) may apply to certain same-sex displays of affection in public. Of particular note for transgenders:  Marawi City, the Philippines' only officially Islamic city, has an ordinance against cross-dressing and overt feminine behavior among men, and the muttawa (religious police) are always on the prowl for "violators."

  • Military service:  Gays and lesbians have been allowed to serve in the military since 2009, though "overt homosexual behavior" will warrant dismissal.  "Overt homosexual behavior" is not specified, and can be open to interpretation.  Though the line of the military is that it does not practice discrimination, there is in fact no official or specific non-discrimination policy in the Armed Forces for LGBTs. 

  • Anti-discrimination legislation:  None.  An anti-discrimination bill is pending consideration in the House of Representatives, but has not been taken up.  Quezon City and Albay province, however, have ordinances against discrimination of LGBTs.

  • Same-sex partnerships or marriage:  Neither banned nor recognized, though Article 2 of the Family Code does stipulate one of the requirements of marriage as being between a male and a female.  This provision prevents the government from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and from honoring commitment ceremonies performed in churches (e.g. same-sex Holy Unions performed at Metropolitan Community Church's three chapters in the Philippines). 

  • Recognition of same-sex partnerships or marriages solemnized abroad:  Not recognized because of Article 2 of the Family Code.  However, there is a potential sticking point because of that same Code's 26th Article which states “All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in the country, except those prohibited under [Articles 35-38]."  Same-sex marriages are not specifically listed as prohibited under any of those corresponding Articles, and this could be a point of legal fireworks in the future. 

  • Immigration rights for same-sex couples:  No. 

  • Joint adoption by same-sex couples:  Not allowed.  In accordance with Section 7 of the Domestic Adoption Act (R.A. 8552) and Article 185 of the Family Code, which declare that only married couples can adopt jointly, the Adoption Board will not consider same-sex couples. 

  • Laws concerning gender identity and expression:  No protections against gender identity discrimination and no right to legally change one's sex on government documents, even if a transgender Filipina or Filipino undergoes a sex-change operation.

  • Lesbian couples right to artificial insemination:  No.