The final wording of a gay marriage
bill approved by Portugal's Parliament received approval on
Wednesday, Portugal's IOL Diario reported.
The government's Committee for
Constitutional Affairs unanimously agreed on the bill's final
The measure now heads to the desk of
President Anibal Cavaco Silva. Cavaco Silva is a Roman Catholic and
a member of the PSD party, groups which oppose the legalization of
gay marriage, and he has publicly stated his opposition to gay
Opposition to gay marriage in the
mostly Roman Catholic country has been nominal, but last Sunday
opponents staged a huge rally attended by thousands. A crowd
estimated at 5,000 marched down Lisbon's main downtown artery Av. da
Liberdade (Liberty Avenue) calling on the president to reject the gay
marriage bill and demanding a referendum on gay marriage, although
Parliamentarians have already rejected such a measure.
The Socialist-controlled Parliament,
led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates, is prepared to overturn a
The Vatican has vociferously opposed
laws that grant gay couples the right to marry. Pope Benedict has
called for the ouster of Socialists in Spain who approved a gay
marriage law in 2005, but the church's opposition in Portugal has
been muted. However, Benedict is widely expected to criticize the
bill when he visits Portugal in May.
President Cavaco Silva will have eight
days to forward the bill to the Constitutional Court – which denied
a lesbian couple the right to marry in a narrow 3-to-2 decision last
year – or 20 days to veto the measure once it lands on his desk.
Gay marriage is legal in five European
counties, including Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and, most