President Rodrigo Duterte has announced he supports the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the Philippines, Reuters reports.
Duterte spoke at an LGBT+ conference in Davao City and promised the crowd that he would work towards changing the country’s marriage law.
“I want same-sex marriage,” Duterte said. “The problem is, we'll have to change the law, but we can change the law.”
“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."
The Family Code of the Philippines currently states that marriage is between a ‘man and a woman’ and same-sex couples are unable to access legal recognition.
The Catholic Church in the country is staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage, referring to it as an attempt “to normalise homosexual behaviour”.
In March this year, Duterte spoke out against same-sex marriage, citing the Catholic church and the Family Code.
“We are Catholics and there is the Civil Code, which says that you can only marry a woman for me… for a woman to marry a man,” he added.
But in 2015, he noted on a national talk show that same-sex marriage was "good... everyone deserves to be happy".
Duterte’s speech yesterday marked another abrupt shift in his approach to marriage equality.
“Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passed?” Duterte asked.
“So I am with you,” he told the LGBT+ community in Davao City.
Duterte also announced that the LGBT+ community would be protected during his presidency.
"Let me just say thank you for the celebration, and you have my guarantee that everybody, at least during my term, will be protected and nurtured as a human being," he said.
"There will be no oppression and we will recognise your importance in society," Duterte added.
Twitter users in the Philippines have had mixed reactions to the president's comments.