Spain Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon has denied that the government plans to withdraw an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage law approved under the previous Socialist government.

Members of the conservative Popular Party (PP) filed a challenge to the law soon after it was approved in 2005. The PP returned to power in elections held late last year.

Speaking to ABC Punto Radio, Ruiz-Gallardon said that the government could not withdraw the appeal filed by the PP parliamentarian group “because it no longer exists.”

He added that the government would abide by the Constitutional Court's ruling on the law.

Analysts believe the 11-member court will uphold the law, even after the installation of four new judges.

Nearly 20,000 gay and lesbian couples have married since such unions became legal in Spain.

Spain was the third country behind the Netherlands and Belgium to legalize gay nuptials. Canada followed suit 17 days later.