The Philippines Supreme Court has ruled unanimously against a landmark case that could have legalized marriage equality in the country. The decision was made primarily on technical grounds, as the plaintiff, Jesus Falcis, had not attempted to file for a marriage license.
Justices ruled that because he would not benefit from them striking down the provisions in the Family Code, a 1987 law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, his argument that his rights as a gay man were being violated, as the statute goes against the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, was not valid.
TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
“We just voted to dismiss the case because there is no case,” Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin told reporters on Wednesday, Rappler reports.
The court noted that while it ruled against Falcis the decision was not based on the constitutionality of the Family Code, leaving an opening for further litigation.
“From its plain text, the Constitution does not define, or restrict, marriage on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression,” said the high court, through spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka.
However, the court also said that change “may, for now, be a matter that should be addressed to Congress.”
“It simply means we have to continue advocacy for legislating an anti-discrimination bill in Congress, where we have many allies,” Danton Remoto, chair of LGBT political party Ang Ladlad, told AFP of the decision.
Josefiel Rivera/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
While that is cause for hope for the community, at least one of the justices seemed hesitant to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro voiced concerns that doing so could complicate gender-specific laws on marriages. For instance, men are given more control over property decisions, whereas mothers are seen as better caregivers for young children, giving them more autonomy over child-rearing issues.