Portugal's gay marriage law takes
effect next week, Portugal Diario reported.
Beginning June 7, marriage in Portugal
will be defined as a “contract between two people wishing to form
families through the full communion of life.”
Prime Minister Jose Socrates, a Social
Democrat, promised to legalize gay marriage if his party was returned
to power. Lawmakers approved the bill in February.
President Anibal Cavaco Silva
reluctantly signed the gay marriage bill into law on May 17, saying
he was only doing so because Social Democrats were certain to
overturn a veto.
“There are moments in the life of a
country when ethical responsibility has to be placed above one's
personal convictions,” he said in a televised address to the
The president initially attempted to
derail the legislation, 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 the court's
majority agreed that the four articles were constitutional.
An article that bans married gay and
lesbian couples from adopting children was not forwarded by the
president to the court and the prohibition remains in the final law.
During a visit to Portugal as the
president considered the issue, Pope Benedict called on Roman
Catholics to oppose gay marriage. He called the institution
“insidious and dangerous.”
Portugal joins five European countries
– Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway and most recently Sweden
– in legalizing gay marriage.
Lawmakers in Iceland
are also debating the issue.