The President of the Philippines has offered support for same-sex marriage and has said he plans to set up a LGBT commission.
Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday announced plans for the commission as he spoke at the 7th LGBT year-end gathering at Azuela Cove.
He asked for members of the LGBT community to put forward nominees for the commission.
The President asked for the “brightest” most “honest” and “hardworking” LGBT people to be put forward for the roles.
Also speaking at the event, Dueterte also came out in support of same-sex marriage.
He said he “doesn’t have a problem with a man marrying a man”.
He also said “we will have to change the law”.
A statement from Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said: “President Duterte is the president of all Filipinos. This administration has long espoused inclusivity and sensitivity. We make no distinction. We are all Filipinos enjoying our rights, freedom and equality before the law.”
This is a stark contrast from comments made earlier this year by Duterte.
The President earlier this year claimed prisoners are ‘beyond reform’ because they have turned gay.
The claim comes from President Duterte, a controversial and outspoken leader who is notorious for making prejudiced comments.
In a speech this week he defended the justice system in the country, over international fears about his enthusiastic support for executions of accused criminals
Duterte claimed that even if criminals are sent to prison, they become “beyond reform” because they “would have acquired latent homosexuality”.
According to the Manila Times, he said: “[Convicts] are already monsters in the sense that they are incapable of establishing a relationship with a woman.
“They develop aberration of the mind. They do not want to get out of prison because they get free food there…and they have lovers, they want to return to prison [to be] with their lovers.”
He insisted: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. That’s the basic law of the jungle. If you did kill someone, you pay for it with your life. It is retribution.”
The leader has previously publicly admitted killing suspected criminals during his term as mayor of Davao City.
The Philippines is one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia, with a 2014 poll finding that 73 percent of Filipinos believe homosexuality should be accepted.
However, there has been little in the way of progress.
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There are no national LGBT anti-discrimination laws, no recognition of same-sex marriage, and the Family Code of the Philippines defines marriage as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman”.
And Duterte has made a string of homophobic jibes.
Duterte made homophobic comments about US Ambassador Philip Goldberg last year, saying: “I had an argument with their gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off.”
During the run-up to the presidential election, Duterte suggested he would push for legislation to allow same-sex unions.
However, he later reversed his stance.
He said: “That is their [Western] culture. That’s for them.
“That can’t apply to us, because we are Catholics.
“And there is the civil code, which states you can only marry a woman for me, and for a woman to marry a man.
“That’s the law in the Philippines.”