Female couple Lance Quiambao, right, 23, and Eunice Bundallan, 22, attend their wedding Friday, June 29, 2012 in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines. Five all-female couples were married in the Metropolitan Community Churches chapel but same sex marriage is not honored by the government and the catholic church. AP/Pat Roque
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines may be a predominantly Catholic country, but that has not curbed the Filipinos’ curiosity about same-sex marriage, which remains illegal in the country, the most recent “Insights” report by search giant Google showed.
Google’s “Insights for Search” report showed that Filipino netizens rank first worldwide in terms of searching about same-sex marriage and related queries such as “marriage laws,” “gay rights” and “gay marriage states” in June, the international Gay Pride month.
Other countries that recorded large volumes of same sex-related searches were the United States, Nigeria, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, Singapore, Ireland and Malaysia.
Failure of parents
“Violence against the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) community exists in many forms but gay pride continues to put color in various fields such as entertainment, arts and sciences,” Google said in a statement released this week.
Google noted that last May, US President Barack Obama, who is running for reelection this November, made his first public statement supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage in America. The company said this might have piqued the interest of Internet users around the world, resulting in a rise in “same sex” searches across the globe.
Danton Remoto, founder of gay rights party-list Ladlad, said the interest of Filipino Internet users in sexuality was a symptom of the failure of parents and the education system to provide adequate knowledge about the issue.
“As you know, most Internet users are the younger people. (The Google search report) showed that Filipinos are open-minded and are hungry for knowledge (about sexuality),” Remoto said in an interview.
But while the Internet is a source of information, it is also unfiltered, he added.
Despite most Filipinos being Catholics, who are taught to shun same-sex relationships, Remoto said Filipinos may be starting to rebel against Church doctrines that no longer reflect the values of modern-day society.
Recent statements made by local and foreign celebrities have also led to discussions of “same-sex” issues on the Web, Google said.
“The local show biz industry came across with different perspectives. Celebrities such as Lea Salonga and Martin Nievera said that they are in favor of same-sex marriage,” the search giant noted.
Show biz personality and Miss Universe runner-up Miriam Quiambao earned the ire of Internet users following her statements against same-sex marriage. Quiambao has since apologized to the public.
Openly gay celebrities
According to Google, openly gay celebrities popular with Filipinos include Hollywood stars Ellen Degeneres and wife Portia de Rossi, and Neil Patrick Harris, whose character as a playboy on the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” showed that gay men could also play straight roles effectively.
Locally, talk show host and talent manager Boy Abunda is also known to be open about his relationship with Bong Quintana, his partner of 20 years.
Last Monday, Google paid tribute to Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, through one of the company’s “Doodles,” special designs in its home page meant to commemorate certain events. Turing was a British mathematician whose work with Britain’s Nazi code-breaking center helped win World War II for the Allied Countries.
Turing’s achievements, however, were ignored after the war when he was criminally prosecuted for homosexual acts, which were illegal at the time. Rather than take hormone balancers as an alternative to prison, he chose to commit suicide by ingesting cyanide.