Portugal's gay marriage law
specifically forbids married gay and lesbian couples from adopting
On Monday, Portugal's President Anibal
Cavaco Silva announced he would ratify the gay marriage bill approved
by lawmakers in January, making Portugal the sixth European nation to
grant gay couples the right to marry.
The president lamented his decision,
saying he was only doing so because Social Democrats – led by Prime
Minister Jose Socrates – were certain to overturn his veto.
“Given that fact, I feel I should not
contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only
serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the
attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us.”
“There are moments in the life of a
country when ethical responsibility has to be placed above one's
personal convictions,” he added.
Cavaco Silva, however, might have
decided differently if the law allowed gay adoption. Earlier, the
president attempted to derail the law by forwarding four out of five
of the bill's articles to the nation's Constitutional Court. He said
he did so because he doubted the bill's constitutionality. But he
set aside the article that bans gay adoption, a clear signal he
wanted to ensure it remained in the final legislation should the
court vote in favor of the bill. The court's majority found the bill to
The seventy-year-old president announce
his decision in a nationally televised address.
“We feel that we're experiencing a
memorable, emotional moment,” Vitalinos Canas, a Socialist
government MP, told Euronews. “It's a huge step for
civilization, taken by our country.”
The president's signature comes just
days after Pope Benedict toured the Roman Catholic stronghold of
Portugal. Speaking in the city of Fatima, the pope called for a
greater defense of what he said were “essential and primary values
of life,” among which he included the family. He said the family
was “founded on indissoluble marriage between man and woman.”
Abortion – legal in Portugal since
2007 – and gay marriage were “among some of the most insidious
and dangerous challenges facing the common good today.”
The pope has taken a similar hard line
in neighboring Spain, where Socialists legalized gay marriage in
Social conservatives in Mexico have
denounced a gay marriage law approved by Mexico City lawmakers
because it lifted a previous ban on gay adoption. The federal
government has appealed to the nation's Supreme Court, saying it has
a responsibility to protect children. In Argentina, a gay marriage
bill that includes the right to adopt has won the approval of the
country's lower chamber of Congress, but faces
an uncertain future as debate begins in the Senate.
In both countries, adoption by gay and
lesbian couples has stirred the most controversy.
Gay marriage is also legal in five
European countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway and, most
is also considering legalizing gay marriage.