Portuguese parliament passes freedom to marry bill

Agence France-Press
February 11, 2010

Portuguese lawmakers Thursday definitively adopted legislation legalising homosexual marriage, although President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a practising Roman Catholic, must give final approval.

Portugal's parliament passed the bill in a first vote in January, less than three decades after revoking the country's ban on homosexuality. But lawmakers rejected proposals to allow same sex couples to adopt.

Cavaco Silva could still veto the measure, a move that would mean a new vote in parliament but would merely delay it becoming law.

The president is a member of the leading conservative PSD party, which has come out against gay marriage, but he has not commented on the subject.

According to local media, Portuguese authorities and Catholic leaders want the matter settled before Pope Benedict XVI's planned May visit to Portugal.

In contrast to Spain, where the run-up to legalising gay marriage in 2005 brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets, the bill in Portugal sparked only muted opposition, even from the political right.

If the bill is ratified, Portugal will count among half a dozen European countries allowing gay marriage, including Belgium, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and Norway.

Others, including Britain, France and Germany, permit same sex civil partnerships.  [Link]