Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco
Silva will veto a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers in
Cavaco Silva will veto the bill soon
after Pope Benedict's arrival on May 11.
Last month, the president, a Roman
Catholic and a member of the PSD party, groups which oppose the
legalization of gay marriage, forwarded four out of five of the
bill's articles to the country's Constitutional Court, setting aside
a measure that prohibits gay adoption. He said he did so because he
doubted the bill's constitutionality, but refused to say why he did
not include the article on adoption.
The court's majority, however, ruled
the four articles to be constitutional earlier this month.
The president has 20 days from the
ruling's official publication – which has yet to occur – to
either reject the measure or allow it come into force.
Opposition to the gay marriage bill in
the Roman Catholic stronghold of Portugal has been mostly muted, but
Pope Benedict's impending visit has already reignited opposition to
the bill and likely played a role in influencing the president's
decision. In neighboring Spain, Benedict has called for the ouster
of Socialists who approved a gay marriage law in 2005.
In January, Benedict took a swipe at
countries considering legalizing gay marriage, saying it threatens
“Creatures differ from one another
and can be protected, or endangered in different ways, as we know
from daily experience,” he told diplomats who had gathered at the
Vatican. “One such attack comes from laws or proposals, which, in
the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis
of the differences between the sexes.”
“I am thinking, for example, of
certain countries in Europe or North and South America,” he added.
Social Democrats – led by Prime
Minister Jose Socrates – say they have the votes needed to override
If the bill is approved, Portugal would
join five European countries – Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Norway and, most recently, Sweden – in legalizing gay marriage.