The controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte this week expressed his support for same-sex unions, after previously declaring his opposition to gay marriage. The u-turn on the matter is likely to encounter hostility from the Church in the mainly Catholic islands.
“I said I am for (same) sex marriage if that is the trend of the modern times,” he said. “If that will add to your happiness, I am for it,” Duterte said.
The president made the above statement a gathering of LGBT people in his hometown Davao City. He vowed to protect LGBT rights and invited them to nominate a representative to work in his government.
In previous statements reported by the press Duterte was quoted as saying he was opposed to gay unions because he believed marriage is only between a man and a woman. He particularly attacked Western countries that allow same-sex marriage, especially those who criticized his brutal war on drugs
Duterte also asked the LGBT community to nominate a representative whom he could appoint to a government post, saying he needed “the brightest” to replace those he has recently fired over allegations of corruption.
“You nominate somebody who is honest, hardworking. I give you until the second week of January to nominate,” he said.
The first legal LGBT radio station in the Arab world has started its transmissions from Tunisia. Shams Rad’s broadcast was accompanied by the Tunisian national anthem and a speech from its director Bouhdid Belhadi.
In his inaugural speech Belhadi said that “we’ve made a huge step in this difficult path. Dignity and equality are two words that will stop homophobia. Those who do not understand it can now open a book and let us continue with this dream”
The opening of this new radio station has raised several public complaints in the North African country, which is relatively more open minded compared to other Muslim counterparts. A total of 3652 messages containing threats and insults have been received, some threatening direct action against the station.
The Shams Rad Project has been sponsored and financed by a Dutch embassy in Tunisia, through an NGO that had to go through many bureaucratic obstacles. It will be available on the web and will feature a number of cultural, artistic and current affairs programmes with a LGBT focus.
Although liberal when compared to other Asian countries, Japan is still relatively backwards when it comes to LGBTQI rights. While there has been no prohibition of same-sex activities since 1880 and the age of consent is equal since that date, same-sex couples are not eligible for rights and protection enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts. Many Japanese citizens therefore experience disadvantages when it comes to property or hereditary matters, not to mention immigration of partners of LGBTQI citizens..
Equally there is no real protection for LGBTQI people, at least in no explicit form, in such areas as employment, education, housing, health care and banking.
But there are signs that the situation is changing, especially because a growing number of younger Japanese citizens are increasingly showing more a liberal outlook than their parents. A 2015 opinion poll found 51 percent of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage. More than than 70 percent of those in their twenties approved, compared with only 24 percent among people in their seventies.
Speaking to Bloomberg News on the day Australia became the latest nation to legalize gay marriage, Kanako Otsuji, 42, the only openly gay member of parliament in the country with the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, has expressed the hope that one day her country will also be able to recognise LGBT relationships. However she faces a stiff opposition from conservative elements in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party
"First of all we want to pass a law banning discrimination," Otsuji, a new lower house member with the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Thursday at her offices in Tokyo. "It will then become clear that the lack of a law permitting same-sex marriage or partnership is discriminatory.”
Passing such a bill will require a lot of compromise and cross-party agreement, something that makes the path of any equality legislation very steep, because although those in their twenties and thirties may support a change in attitudes, low voting rates among these age groups mean that politicians must appeal to the over-fifties, Otsuji said.
Australia is the 26th country to legalise same-sex marriage, after a very long and bitter campaign. This reverts the same-sex marriage ban which was enshrined in the legislation by then-PM John Howard in 2004.
Although many surveys have for years indicated a solid majority for equality, various proposals to change the marriage law in Parliament failed to reach a positive result, mostly because of the bitter divisions in both major parties, but especially within the Liberal Party.
The current Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, himself a supporter of LGBT rights and presiding over a constituency amongst the more diverse in the country, decided to avoid further conflict in his party by organizing a very controversial non-binding postal survey, which delivered an overwhelming result in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage (61.6%).
Following such a strong result, a bill was quickly introduced in the Senate (during the same-sex marriage debate in the Upper House, Liberal MP Tim Wilson proposes to his long term partner Ryan Bolger), and then passed by the lower house today 7th December at 5:58pm local time.
Only four MPs voted against the change, and so clear was the result that a formal count was not required. A handful of MPs - including former Liberal PM Tony Abbott and Treasurer Scott Morrison - chose to abstain.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in his excitement to hail the end of this days' rivers of words, cried "What a day, what a day for love, for equality, for respect. It is a time for more marriages, more equality, more love!"
Opposition Labor Party Leader Bill Shorten wanted the world to know that "we are no longer a nation who voted yes or no; we are Australians."