The Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday called on the public and lawmakers to oppose efforts to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in the Philippines.

Leaders said that Catholic lawmakers have “a moral duty” to publicly oppose marriage equality and to vote against its legalization.

“A homosexual union is not and can never be a marriage as properly understood and so-called,” the CBCP said in a statement posted on its website.

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and the family.”

“Catholics cannot participate in any way or even attend religious or legal ceremonies that celebrate and legitimize homosexual unions.”

The CBCP said it was opposed to marriage equality because same-sex relationships “are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race.”

More than 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic.

According to the AFP, divorce and abortion remain illegal in the conservative nation mainly due to the Catholic Church's influence.