Portugal’s gay community celebrates approval of gay marriage

By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]

Portugal’s gay community and supporters celebrated the Parliament’s decision to legalise same sex weddings.

Paulo Corte-Real, president of ILGA, one of the country’s largest gay equality groups, called the vote a historic day for Portugal, which “marked a change in attitude on the part of the State”.

He was talking outside the Parliament building, the Assembleia da República, while a group of 70 supporters, celebrated the result announced on Friday, January 8, with champagne and wedding cake.

“Portugal was a State which had repressed, harassed and criminalised relationships between people of the same sex and that same State affirms today that they have equal recognition and dignity before the law,” he said.

The bill for same sex civil marriages was pushed through Parliament by Prime Minister José Sócrates’ minority Socialist government with the support of left-wing parties, such as the Bloco Esquerda.

Following the vote, José Sócrates called it “a historic step in the country’s fight against discrimination”.

However, the Portuguese Parliament has rejected proposals to allow homosexual couples to adopt children.

Opening the debate, the Prime Minister had said voting in favour of the bill would “put right an injustice that had caused unnecessary pain.”

The new law has been fiercely opposed by the opposition centre-right PSD party and the far-right CDS-PP party, which called for a referendum, as well as being opposed by the Catholic Church which had warned against the move.

Lisbon’s Cardinal Patriarch, José Policarpo, confined official comments, however, to stating that it was the “Parliament’s responsibility”.

Many on the right have been arguing that the Portuguese public is not ready for legalised same-sex marriages, pointing to the recent opinion polls which suggested that 49.5 per cent were against as opposed to 45.5 per cent in favour.

A European Union Eurobarometer survey also pointed to a far wider section of Portuguese society (68.4 per cent) being against child adoption by same-sex couples while a call for a referendum on gay marriage had been backed up by a 90,000 signature petition.

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