VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Roque claim on Duterte’s view on same-sex marriage needs context

Read this fact check in Filipino

In a press briefing on Nov. 5, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque contradicted President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance on the legalization of same-sex marriage for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) couples.

The spokesperson was asked if the Palace agreed with lawyer Lyndon Caña’s statement during the Nov. 4 hearing at the House of Representatives on 15 separately filed Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bills.

Caña said the proposed fines and punishment for committing hateful acts against members of the LGBTQ community would supposedly make them a “super special elite” class. He said these would be “discriminatory against the straight community” who are covered only by libel and defamation laws.

In response, Roque said the president supports the SOGIE bill but does not endorse same-sex marriage. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte changes stand on same-sex marriage)

This needs context. Watch this video:

In July 2018, Roque said Duterte was in favor of same-sex civil unions -- not marriage -- following the results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll released the previous month, which found that three out of five of Filipinos oppose same-sex civil unions.

The spokesperson at the time said he had yet to see the poll results and mistakenly thought the survey asked respondents on their position on “same-sex marriage.” He then said:

“Now, kung same-sex marriage po ang pinag-uusapan, pati po si presidente tutol sa same sex marriage. Pero ‘yung union po, pabor po dyan si presidente para lamang maayos yung iba’t-ibang aspeto ng pagsasama ng kaparehong kasarinlan.”

(If we’re talking about same-sex marriage, even the president is against same-sex marraige. But if [we’re talking about] union, the president is in favor of it just so the different aspects of the relationship of same-sex couples may be in order.)

Source: RTV Malacañang Official Youtube Account, Press Briefing - Maasin City, Leyte 7/2/2018, July 2, 2018, watch from 27:04 to 27:21

On Oct. 22 this year, Roque said the president has said “over and over” that he is in favor of a Philippine law that will recognize same sex civil unions:

“The President has said it over and over again, pabor po siya sa isang batas na magri-recognize ng civil union sa mga (he is in favor of a law that would recognize civil unions of)...same sex relationships.”

Source: RTV Malacañang Official Youtube Account, Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. 10/22/2020, Oct. 22, 2020 watch from 29:12 to 29:24

Roque further said, now that “no less than” Pope Francis is “supporting” civil unions of LGBTQ couples, “even the most conservative of all Catholics in Congress should no longer have a basis” for objecting it.

In 2019, two representatives in the House filed separate bills in the 18th Congress that seek to recognize the rights and obligations of couples of both the opposite or same sex. Both measures are pending in the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality since they were filed July 2019.


Sources

PTV Official Facebook Account, WATCH: Press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque | November 5, 2020, Nov. 5, 2020

House of Representatives Official Facebook Account, Topic: Continuation of deliberation re HBs 95, 134, 160, 258, 640, 865, 1023, 1041,1359, 2211, 2870, 4369, 4474, 5818, 6294, and 7754 (SOGIE Equality Bills), Accessed Nov. 5, 2020

VERA Files, VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte changes stand on same-sex marriage, March 31, 2017

Radyo Pilipinas Official Facebook Account, Distribution of Grants to the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Beneficiaries 2/24/2019, Accessed Nov. 5, 2020

Wikimedia Commons, Philippine LGBTQ+ Protester During Pride March, June 29, 2019

Wikimedia Commons, Philippine LGBTQ+ Protester During Pride March waving a rainbow flag, June 29, 2019

ABS-CBN News Official Youtube Account, What Duterte thinks of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, July 12, 2015

CNN Philippines, Town Hall 2016: Duterte-Cayetano, Feb. 18, 2016

RTV Malacañang Official Youtube Account, Question and Answer - Pasay City 3/23/2017, March 23, 2017

RTV Malacañang Official Youtube Account, 7th Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Year-End Gathering (Speech) 12/17/2017, Dec. 18, 2017

GMA News Online, Supreme Court to hear arguments on same-sex marriage Tuesday, June 19, 2018, June 18, 2018

Philstar.com, Same-sex marriage up for oral arguments at SC, June 18, 2018

Philippine News Agency, SC oral arguments on same sex marriage set for June 19, March 6, 2018

Social Weather Stations, First Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: 61% of Pinoys oppose, and 22% support, a law that will allow the civil union of two men or two women, June 29, 2018

RTV Malacañang Official Youtube Account,, Press Briefing - Maasin City, Leyte 7/2/2018, July 2, 2018,

RTV Malacañang Official Youtube Account, Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. 10/22/2020, Oct. 22, 2020

Interaksyon, ‘Not marriage’: The real deal on Pope Francis’ comments on same-sex civil unions, Oct. 24, 2020

The New York Times, In Shift for Church, Pope Francis Voices Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions, Oct. 21, 2020

British Broadcasting Corporation, Pope Francis indicates support for same-sex civil unions, Oct. 21, 2020

House of Representatives, House Bill No. 1357, July 7, 2019

House of Representatives, House Bill No. 2264, July 17, 2019


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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