Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco
Silva has 20 days to decide on a gay marriage bill.
Wednesday's official publication of the
country's Constitutional Court's favorable ruling on gay marriage
started the countdown.
By law, Cavaco Silva has 20 days from
publication to either veto the bill or allow it to come into force.
The seventy-year-old president has
denied reports that he's decided to 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 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.
Saying gay marriage threatens creation,
Benedict took a swipe at Portuguese lawmakers as they considered the
bill in January.
“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 to override a
If the bill is approved, Portugal would
join five European countries – Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Norway and, most recently, Sweden – in legalizing gay marriage.
Lawmakers in Argentina
are also considering legalizing gay marriage.