The Philippines' top court this week heard arguments for the legalisation of gay marriage, three years after two same-sex couples denied licences to wed urged the Supreme Court to strike down a 1987 law that states marriage must be between a man and a woman.
"When the right to marry, a decision so personal, so intimate and so life-changing, is denied to LGBT people, the state is not valuing their dignity," lawyer Jesus Falcis, who is also a co-plaintiff, told justices in Manila, according to AFP.
More than 80 percent of the Philippines 100 million population is Catholic, and divorce and abortion are both outlawed.
The hearing was welcomed by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
"If the Supreme Court rules that the provisions of the Family Code are unconstitutional and permits same-sex marriage, or the national legislature enacts a law allowing same-sex marriage, the Philippines will join Taiwan at the forefront of Asian countries with marriage equality," said HRW researcher Ryan Thoreson in an online piece.
According to Mr. Thoreson, who is from HRW's LGBT rights division, "as the (Philippine) Supreme Court deliberates over the same-sex marriage case, lawmakers have an opportunity to proactively protect the rights of LGBT Filipinos."
Hardline President Rodrigo Duterte had expressed support for gay marriage during his campaign trail but has since backed off.
"I am for same-sex marriage. The problem is, we'll have to change the law. But we can change the law," Duterte told a gathering of LGBT people in his southern home city of Davao in December last year.