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Palau's leader backs same-sex marriage

Koror- President Tommy Remengesau Jr. on Wednesday expressed support to striking down the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage saying he believes in full equality.

Remengesau, speaking to local reporters, branded as discriminatory the constitutional provision that bans same-sex marriage.

“Those who are different doesn’t mean that they should be outcast, second class citizens, or that they can’t contribute to the community. So I want to make it clear that I don’t believe in the constitutional amendment that promote discrimination,” Remengesau said

There is currently a citizens' led drive to repeal the ban on same-sex marriage in the constitution.

In 2008, Palauan voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"I want it to be on record that I support the rights of each individual, any Palauan, to be treated equally...Let us treat each other with respect and dignity,” Remengesau added.

The current constitutional ban stated in Article IV, Section 13 of the Constitution read as follows: "Section 13. The government shall provide for marital and related parental rights, privileges and responsibilities on the basis of equality between men and women, mutual consent and cooperation. All marriages contracted within the Republic of Palau shall be between a man and a woman. Parents or individuals acting in the capacity of parents shall be legally responsible for the support of and for the unlawful conduct of their minor children as prescribed by law."

Before the 2008 constitutional amendment, there was no prohibition of same-sex in Palau nor statutes specific that requires marriage to be only between man and woman.

Remengesau said he wants Palau to be seen as an open and progressive nation, noting that even the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is making changes to in the church and has preached on welcoming all regardless of sexual orientation.

“This won’t be positive for us at the UN level as the trend worldwide is opening up to these individual rights, but we are taking a step backward,” Remengesau said.

The islands of Guam and the CNMI have recognized marriage between members of the same sex following the US Supreme Court ruling on June 15, 2015, which legalized same-sex marriage.

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