Philippines President Benigno Aquino III expressed tolerance toward the prospect of legalized gay marriage in his country, saying that normally "adults should be able to do whatever you want so long as it doesn't hurt anybody else." Aquino's comments came in a question and answer session following his speech at the Asia Society in New York on Tuesday.
UPDATE: On Thursday, Malacañang "clarified" the president's stance on gay marriage. "President Aquino is not ready to tackle the issue of gay marriage for now. We have so many problems in the government. I think we would like to address concerns on poverty and corruption before anything else," spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. Lacierda added, "That answer is ambiguous. He is not ready to discuss the issue of gay marriage."
Nevertheless, President Aquino stopped short of endorsing any legislative action on the matter, saying that he's not "ready to tackle that fight right now." He also expressed skepticism about the virtues of gay adoption, worrying openly about the effect it would have on adopted children's lives.
Gay marriage remains illegal in the Philippines, which is by far East Asia's largest Catholic-majority nation. In 2009, however, the country's military permitted gays to serve openly in the armed forces — fully two years before American gays earned the same right.
Watch a video clip of President Aquino's comments on gay marriage (55 sec.):