By Wilnard Bacelonia
MANILA – Senator Imee Marcos has refiled Senate Bill (SB) No. 1532 that seeks to institutionalize property rights and legal protection for the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more) community.
Ahead of the observance of World Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, Marcos said granting property rights to same-sex couples should not be hampered by the ongoing moral and religious debate over legalizing same-sex union.
“The acquisition, ownership, and use of property is a guaranteed right of all citizens, but same-sex couples are not adequately protected by existing laws,” she said in a statement on Friday.
SB 1532 or Instituting a Property Regime for Same Sex Partners shall ensure each partner a just share of properties when a partner dies or becomes disabled or when a relationship is ended by mutual agreement or abandonment.
Marcos filed the same bill in the 18th Congress but it did not pass committee level.
“This bill seeks to provide protection to the rights of same-sex partners to jointly acquire, own, use, enjoy, manage, sell, dispose, or alienate property for their benefit including the rights of each partner to a just share of such properties acquired during the partnership in case of death, disability, or incapacity of the other partner, and in instances of separation or termination of the partnership and/or abandonment of one partner by the other for any case,” according to the bill’s explanatory note.
Under the bill, same-sex partners will be deemed co-owners of properties they have acquired even in the absence of a written agreement if they have lived together for at least a year.
Co-ownership will also cover income derived from the shared properties, but written consent of both partners will be required if the said properties are sold, leased, or disposed of in any manner.
Excluded from co-ownership are properties inherited by either partner, as well as gifts or donations given by members of a partner’s immediate family.
A partner will remain personally responsible for any loan or financial obligation, which cannot be paid out by co-owned funds or property.
Co-ownership is dissolved when a relationship is ended, unless both partners have a written contract to continue co-ownership, or upon the death or permanent disability of any of the partners.
Senator Robinhood Padilla previously filed SB 449 or the Civil Unions Act to institutionalize civil partnerships for same-sex couples and anti-discrimination protection for such unions, but was met by criticisms from the Muslim community.
“It is high time that the Philippines provides equal rights and recognition for couples of the same sex with no prejudice as sexual relationships are protected and recognized and given access to basic social protection and security,” Padilla said in his explanatory note. “Providing equal rights and privileges for same-sex couples will in no way diminish or trample on the rights granted to married couples.”
A key religious leader in Marawi City, however, issued a statement of withdrawal of support from Padilla, saying the measure “is tantamount to disbelief (kufr) which is outside the creed of Islam.”
“I regret to inform all Muslims in general and the Muslims in the Philippines that I and those who follow me have withdrawn our support for Senator Robin Padilla and strongly condemn his sponsorship of Same-Sex Marriage Bill in the Senate,” said Alim Abdulmajeed Djamla, the Grand Imam of the Jameo Mindanao Al Islamie (Marawi Grand Mosque). “This is based on the doctrine that same-sex marriage is considered immoral by all religions and is forbidden (Haram) under Islamic law.”
Padilla was convicted of illegal possession of firearms in 1994 and converted from Jehovah’s Witness to Islam while detained at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Under the Family Code, marriage is restricted between a man and a woman which means same-sex couples cannot enjoy the same rights that married straight couples do, including adopting children, getting labor benefits and privileges, getting tax exemptions, consenting to medical procedures, and getting visitation rights in hospitals and detention facilities. (PNA)