Tags: Portugal | law | gay | marriage

Portugal's Parliament Passes Gay Marriage Law

Friday, 08 January 2010 10:16 AM

Portugal's parliament has passed a law to legalise same-sex marriage, but rejected proposals to allow homosexual couples to adopt.

The bill was approved with the support of the governing Socialist Party and other parties further to the left.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates opened the debate with an appeal to back the law, saying it would put right an injustice that had caused unnecessary pain.

The law has been fiercely opposed by conservatives in the Catholic country.

Rightist parties had sought a national referendum on the issue following a petition that collected more than 90,000 signatures, but their proposal was rejected.

Friday's debate was at times heated, says the BBC's Alison Roberts in Lisbon, with Socialists attacking as discriminatory a counter-proposal from the centre-right Social Democrats for a new so-called civil union for same-sex couples.

The bill will now be reviewed in committee before coming back for a final vote in parliament.

If the law is ratified by President Anibal Cavaco Silva, it could come into effect in April - just a month before a visit to Portugal by Pope Benedict XVI, a staunch opponent of gay marriage.

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Friday, 08 January 2010 10:16 AM
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