Same-sex marriage allowed in Portugal

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On May 17, 2010, the Portuguese President, Anibal Cavaco Silva, signed into law a bill that allows same-sex marriages, making the predominately Catholic Portugal the eighth country in the world where same-sex marriage is allowed country-wide. The law will become effective within a few days, after publication in the official gazette.

The new law removes the previous legal stipulation that marriage is between two people of different sexes. Gay rights activists note that the law does not include provisions for same-sex couple's parental rights, including adoption, for which they say they will continue to fight.

In 1982, homosexuality was decriminalized in Portugal. In 2001, "civil unions" were granted to same-sex couples and provided certain legal, tax and property rights. However, the União de Facto limited a surviving partner's ability to inherit his or her partner's possessions or state pensions.

Portugal will become the sixth country in Europe to legalize same-sex marriages (after Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden). Canada and South Africa also have legalized same-sex marriage.