Gay Portugal News & Reports

1 Portuguese Parliament Grants Rights To Same-Sex Couples 3/01

2 Constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation 8/04

3 Portuguese push for same-sex marriage 2/06

4 African nations urged to embrace LGBT rights 12/07

5 Portuguese parliament rejects law on homosexual marriage 10/08

6 Transgender Community in Portugal 11/08

7 In & Out: Lisbon…Getting friendly in Portugal 1/09

8 Roman Catholic Church ready to fight gay equality in Portugal 2/09

9 Same-sex marriage campaign launched in Portugal 6/09

10 Portugal upholds gay marriage ban after lesbians’ challenge 7/09

11 Portuguese PM wins despite chafing reforms 9/09

12 Portugal votes to legalise gay marriage 01/10

13 Portugal’s top court gives gay marriage green light 4/10

14 Portugal’s President To Veto Gay Marriage Bill 4/10

15 Portugal’s president ratifies gay marriage law 5/10

16 Portugal’s Gay Marriage Law Takes Effect Next Week 6/10

17 Lesbian Couple are First Same-Sex Couple to Marry in Portugal 6/10

18 Portugal Celebrates 221 Gay Weddings In 6 Months 12/10

19 One Country’s Big Gay Leap 10/11

March 15, 2001 – Associated Press

Portuguese Parliament Grants Rights To Same-Sex Couples

Lisbon, Portugal (AP) – Portuguese lawmakers Thursday granted legal rights and tax benefits to gay and lesbian couples who have lived together for more than two years, allowing them the same rights as heterosexual couples in common law marriages. The bill was passed on the votes of a majority of left-of-center lawmakers in the 230-seat National Assembly, Portugal’s parliament, while right-of-center parties opposed the bill, a parliamentary spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity. Exact voting figures were not immediately available.

Gay and lesbian groups have lobbied for several years for equal rights with heterosexual common law couples. In 1999 a majority of lawmakers, including some from the governing left-of-center Socialist Party, balked at a proposal to incorporate same-sex relationships in new legislation on common law marriages. However changes to the bill, including a deal on taxes, persuaded more Socialists to approve it. Homosexual marriages are not permitted in this mostly Roman Catholic country.

August 11,2004

Portugal’s constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation
4th country in the World, first in EU

Portugal is the first country in Europe and (after Ecuador, Fiji and South Africa) the fourth worldwide to explicitly ban sexual orientation discrimination by constitutional legislation.

On July 24, 2004, Constitutional Law no. 1/2004, amending (for the sixth time) the Portuguese Constitution, was published ("Diário da República" [official gazette], no. 173, of July 24, 2004). It comes into force, on the mainland, on July 31, 2004, and on the Azores and Madeira Regions on August 10, 2004. Therefore, article 13 of the Portuguese Constitution now officially states that:

1. All citizens have the same social rank and are equal before the law.

2. No one shall be privileged or favoured, or discriminated against, or deprived of any right or exempted from any duty, by reason of his or her ancestry, sex, race, language, territory of origin, religion, political or ideological convictions, education, economic situation, social circumstances or sexual orientation.

20 February 2006 – Gay.Com/ Network

Portuguese push for same-sex marriage

Marriage equality advocates in Portugal submitted a petition to Parliament on Thursday seeking civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. The petition bearing 5,000 signatures was delivered to lawmakers in Lisbon, according to an Agence France-Press news report. Petitions with at least 4,000 valid signatures can influence the country’s laws, as parliamentarians must consider such initiatives and decide whether or not to put the issues to a debate. Earlier this month two lesbians made headlines when they tried to register their marriage with civil authorities.

The failed attempt helped mobilise gay rights activists, who claim that the marriage law is inconsistent with the Constitution, which was revised in 2004 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The push for same-sex marriage rights in Portugal has reportedly gained momentum since last year, when neighboring Spain became the third European country to give full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. Like Spain, Portugal is a very Catholic country, and the church is active in its opposition to legally recognising same-sex couples

5th December 2007 – PinkNews

African nations urged to embrace LGBT rights

byAntonio Fabrizio
African and European LGBT organisations have asked all African states to fight homophobia as an EU-Africa summit takes place in Lisbon next weekend.
ILGA Europe and its African equivalent Pan Africa ILGA have denounced "state-sponsored" homophobia on the African continent and asked that all African countries adopt the Yogyakarta Principles. Launched in March 2007, the Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

In their joint appeal the LGBT organisations stressed that homophobic laws, which violate fundamental rights of GLBT people, are still in place in many African states. ILGA and its partner organisations have called on those states that consider same-sexual relationships a crime to abolish those laws. At least 38 countries in Africa still criminalise consensual same-sex acts among adults. According to ILGA, although many of these countries do not systematically implement discriminating laws, "their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens need to hide from the rest of the population out of fear."

The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of LGBT issues and have been adopted by judges, academics, a former UN high commissioner for Human Rights, members of treaty bodies, NGOs and others. They include many issues, such as colonial criminal laws in India, proposed discriminatory legislation in Nigeria, police abuses in the US, banning of a gay prides in Eastern Europe and Russia, exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues from European school curricula. ILGA says it would be a major step forward for human rights protection if, on the occasion of their summit, European and African states adopted these principles "as their new guidelines to challenge homophobia and to assure the protection of fundamental rights to all their citizens."

October 10, 2008 –

Portuguese parliament rejects law on homosexual marriage

Lisbon (Xinhua) – The Portuguese parliament rejected Friday a bill on the legitimation of same-sex marriage. The Socialist Party, which has the majority seats in the parliament, announced prior to the voting that it would vote against the initiative sponsored by the Bloc of Left and the Greens. Only two parliamentarians from the party voted in favor of the bill. Manuel Alegre, one of the two, said he decided to break the vote discipline of his party because he should be faithful to his own principles.

The conservative Social Democrat Party, the main opposition group, gave freedom to its members in the voting, but only one of them voted in favor of the bill. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said the issue of homosexual marriage had not been adequately discussed in the Portuguese society and thus it would not be the right time now to approve such an initiative.

November 2008 –

Transgender Community in Portugal

A group of seven people with the financial support of the Portuguese AIDS Association Abraço in collaboration with the CNLCS – National Commission of Fight Against AIDS, had made a very interesting research about trans community in Portugal, a reality that was unknown for the rest of the world and also for the own country.

From fifty persons, majority of them are from the field (45%), from cities (30%) and also an important number are foreign (18%) from France, Angola and Brazil. More than a half are dedicated to sexual work (56%) in the street; other places where develop this labor are the disco, the bar, massage house and their own house, in order of frequency. Most of them, the 70%, don’t have health insurance and this is a dramatic situation because all of them had almost one kind of disease of sexual transmission (50% syphilis, 27% herpes, 23% mycosis), and also VIH Aids, it have about 72% of the population. Hepatitis in many of their modalities is other problems that they present.

This research also includes a review of the legislation in Portugal in which don’t exist any law related with Tran’s needs and situation. Just as there was no specific law that enshrines rights to Portuguese transgender population, such laws still do not exist today. ILGA Word is performed the case law in recent decades that served and continues to serve as a legal reference in Portugal and showing that the latest decision is leaning in the opposite direction of legal developments in other countries.

In this context we could understand the ridicule result of the brutal murder of Gisberta that give only few months to the guilty. This research gives us a view of a society that don’t recognizes human rights of trans people, and continue with a prejudice vision of their identity. This is a situation that urges to change.

January 2009 –

In & Out: Lisbon…Getting friendly in Portugal

by Jimmy Im
I’m sitting on a vintage sofa as my host Tiago cooks me dinner wearing only black briefs. Sure, I just met him but, in the tradition of all good Lisboners, he’s making sure I feel right at home. A ‘celeb’ of sorts in the European performing-arts world, Tiago comments on the delightful weather, which is only one of Lisbon’s best features. Sausages are fired up. And then we eat.
The Portuguese capital has come a long way, baby, as Europe’s underdog. From reinventing itself after the devastating tsunami of 1755 to surviving the fire in the trendy Chiado neighborhood in 1988, this city comprising seven hills is giving the Portuguese boot to Barcelona (which has been stealing all the Iberian Peninsula thunder for years) and easily paving its way as the newest European hotspot for gay travelers.

This is clearly evident my first night during a leisurely after-dinner stroll along cobblestone streets lined by older buildings accented by decorative tiles (azulejos—a Portuguese staple) to the buzzing Bairro Alto district, which you know you’re near when you hear the cacophony of drunken bantering. Most bars in Lisbon are a smidge larger than the interior of freight elevators, so locals and tourists alike flood the streets armed with cocktails—ala New Orleans’ Mardi Gras—and socialize until 2 a.m. “Be prepared,” Tiago tells me.

As naïve as I usually am, I soon understand what he means: as the maddening, mixed crowd thirst, their eyes wander to me. “It’s only because we see the same people every day,” Tiago continues. “You’re new here, and everyone wants to talk to you. We love tourists.” And he’s not kidding. I’m offered several different drinks and winks, and the dark-haired, long-lashed denizens of Lisbon compete for a word with the newbie. It’s an unusual moment but strongly reflective of the gays, who are friendlier than clergymen (give them a drink or two and you’ve got it in the bag).

Even a fairly cute architect chats me up about his recent visit to New York, then suggests we take a stroll. But Tiago has other plans. After a few drinks and with precise timing, he whisks me away through the Principe Real district, a hotspot for trendy bars and cafes, and we end up at Trump’s. Inside, the patrons are young and lively, though dressed rather… suburban. I find out that it’s a favorite haunt for paroles—the Lisbon version of Bridge & Tunnel in New York City—and the non-city dwellers must take a bridge or boat to get there. Hey, boat, bridge or tuk tuk, I’m for sure going to get my gay on on a Friday night. As we dance to some pretty cliché gay house music, Tiago checks his watch. “Time to go.” (Rule of thumb in Lisbon: dinner from 10-12 a.m., cocktails from 12-2 a.m., discos from 2-4 a.m., and Lux nightclub from 4-7 a.m.—arrive earlier or later, and you’ll be the only fool in attendance), We head to Santa Apolonia, which isn’t exactly the buzzing neighborhood—yet.

Just east of the Bairro Alto along the Tagus River, it’s quietly burgeoning—a few trendy boutiques have already set up camp. Santa Apolonia’s claim to fame is John Malkevitch’s nightclub Lux where, at 4:30 a.m., the line of cabs emulate 5th avenue during rush hour. Inside, I tour the three levels then park on the spacious rooftop where a handful of drunks sit inside the 10-foot structure of a stiletto and gaze into the panoramic view of the Tagus.

Tiago tells me, “A lot of people come out here after dancing and watch the sunrise,” which will commence shortly. Some partiers even head to the gay beaches of Costa da Caparica. Either way, its good to know Lisboners have fierce stamina. As the whole lot of cracked out partiers assemble along the deck to watch the sun peak from beyond the hills, I’m already wondering what Tiago’s going to cook me for breakfast.

In a Nutshell:
Money: The dollar is pretty limp compared to the virility of the Euro, but Lisbon is inexpensive and won’t burn holes in your pocket.

Language: Speaking Portuguese earns you 5 stars, Spanish earns you 4. Most Portuguese speak English and love practicing it with you.

Taxi: Relatively cheap and easy to find. Don’t get taxi-scammed at the airport; it’s less than 10 Euro to get downtown.

Alfama: A small neighborhood known for it’s narrow, windy streets and fado bars. As one of the seven hills, it has an amazing view from the historic Castelo de Sao Jorge.

Sintra: You know you’re in the quaint neighborhood when you smell the eucalyptus. Romantic, and cornered by lush landscapes, it’s a must-see excursion.

NH Liberdade: The bulk of hotels are on Avenida da Liberdade, and NH is one of the best in terms of quality and price. Av da Liberdade, 180 B,

Ritz Four Seasons: If you feel like splurging, shack up at the Ritz. A full-service spa with 1,500-square-meter heated pool, panoramic view atop the roof, and top-notch service will make you feel like a prince (or princess). Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 88,

Pap’ acorda: (rua da Atalaia, 57-59) Fashionistas and hipsters head to this hot spot for major neck-craning and good eats. The trendy restaurant features a modern twist to traditional Portuguese cuisine.

Clube de Fado: ( You won’t want to miss the Fado experience (Portuguese tradition of singers lamenting about heartbreak and longing) and Clube de Fado offers a traditional menu that will make your own taste buds cry—with joy.

Bica do Sapato: (Santa Apolonia) Toted as the restaurant in Lisbon with inventive dishes and a sushi bar, as well as winning my award for ‘see and be seen’ establishment.

Bairro Alto: The main cross streets are Travessa da Espera and Rua da Barroca where the scene thrives outside. It’s on the Barroca side where the gays usually cruise.

Trump’s: (Rua Imprensa Nacional, 104 B) This hot spot for college students has two floors and two free drinks with the ten Euro entrance fee.

Finalmente: (Rua da Palmeira 38) Glam-trash heaven with hot boys, drag shows and stiff drinks.

Lux Pretty much the whole city packs in this nightclub from 4 a.m. to sunrise. It’s three floors, so the adventure of getting lost just means finding a way out.

February 13, 2009 – PinkNews

Roman Catholic Church ready to fight gay equality in Portugal

by Staff Writer,
The leaders of the Catholic Church in Portugal have been accused of interfering in the political process after the country’s bishops said they would fight proposals to introduce gay marriage.
Last month Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced his intention to legislate for gay marriage if his Socialist party wins the general election later this year.

After a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference in Fatima, a Church spokesman said: "At the time of voting, Christians will certainly draw their conclusions. Those who involve themselves in these ventures in which the society is exposed to profound wounds, are not trustworthy." He added that Portugese society is "threatened" by same-sex marriage.

After accusations that the Church was targeting the Socialists, it said that the bishops merely wished to "educate" the electorate. Gay and lesbians are entitled to full civil marriage rights across the border in Spain, thanks to the Socialist party. Portugal’s 1975 constitution bans sexual discrimination and gay activists have argued that two women have the same right to marry as a man and a woman. Portugal’s civil code, however, bans same-sex marriages.

In October the government and opposition parties joined forces to defeat a gay marriage proposal put before parliament by small Green and leftist political parties who hoped to draw attention to the issue. At that time the Prime Minister said gay marriage was not on the agenda.

In a speech last month to the Belem Cultural Centre, Mr Socrates said: "This is the moment for the PS (Socialist party), in its national congress, to affirm its desire to propose to Portuguese society the right to civil marriage for people of the same sex. I also want to say that the values that inspire us when we propose this change to the Portuguese people are the values that have always been in the heart of the PS."

The Spanish government under Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has had a tense relationship with the Church after it legalised gay marriage in 2005, reformed divorce laws and tried and failed to negotiate a peace agreement with terrorist group ETA in 2006. During last year’s elections the Church was accused of interfering in the political process. Spain’s ambassador to the Vatican met with Church officials to protest.

11 June 2009 – Gay Lesbian Times

Same-sex marriage campaign launched in Portugal

by Rex Wockner
The Movement for Equality in Access to Civil Marriage launched on May 31 in Lisbon, Portugal. More than 1,000 people signed onto the campaign, including politicians, well-known actors, pop singers and businesspeople, and Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, who was honored for literature in 1998. The campaign’s manifesto, which now can be signed by anyone in Portugal, states, in part: “Equal access to civil marriage is a matter of justice that deserves the support of all people who oppose homophobia and discrimination. … We citizens who believe in equal rights, dignity and recognition for all of us — for our families, friends and colleagues — join our voices to express our support for equality.

“We call this change necessary, fair and urgent because we know that the current situation of inequality divides society between those who are included and those who are excluded, between persons who are inside and marginalized persons. … We now have an opportunity to end one of the last unjustified (instances of) discrimination written in our law.”

July 31, 2009 – PinkNews

Portugal upholds gay marriage ban after lesbians’ challenge

by Ramsey Dehani
The Portuguese constitutional court has today upheld the ban on same-sex marriage after a lesbian couple tried to use a constitutional loophole to challenge the law.
Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, two divorced mothers in their 30s who have been together since 2003, challenged the country’s law when they were turned away from a registry office in Lisbon in 2006 after trying to wed.

The registry office rejected their attempt to marry on the grounds that the law states that marriage is between people of different genders. The couple challenged the ruling on the grounds that the Portuguese constitution also forbids discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. They took their case to a Lisbon court in 2006 but the case failed.

After considering their appeal, the constitutional court said in a statement that the constitution does not state that same-sex marriages must be permitted. The five judges of the court are reported to have voted 3-2 on the appeal. Paixao told Associated Press she regarded the decision as "a victory" because the split decision showed that attitudes were changing in Portugal.

"It shows there’s a change coming. Bit by bit people will come around and accept gay marriage," she said. The couple are planning on taking their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Portugal, which has a large Roman Catholic population, has seen all previous efforts to instigate same-sex marriage hit by heavy resistance from the country’s religious groups and conservative politicians.

The country’s centre-left Socialist Party are, however, including a proposal to permit same-sex marriage in their manifesto for the upcoming general election, due to take place in September.

September 27, 2009 – The Seattle Times

Portuguese PM wins despite chafing reforms

The Associated Press
Socialist leader Jose Socrates, set for another four years as Portugal’s prime minister after elections Sunday, has antagonized many – even inside his own party – with his determination to reform and modernize Portugal.
But the 52-year-old civil engineer, who once described himself as a "ferocious animal" in politics, is unrepentant. During the parliamentary election campaign he vowed to keep breaking the chains holding Portugal back, saying he will not "waver in implementing reforms, even when they are met with incomprehension, obstacles and opponents."

Divorced, with two teenaged sons, Socrates is a daily jogger who cultivates an energetic, can-do image, often appearing at rallies with rolled-up shirtsleeves. His elegant suits and close-cropped gray hair have prompted comparisons with American actor George Clooney. He is renowned for his table-thumping style and reputed quick temper. Trade unions have complained that his determination to change Portuguese ways has made him deaf to pleas for compromise. Strikes and large street protests by public sector workers punctuated his last four years in power.

Socrates’ critics say his reform policies are more like those of a center-right party than a Socialist. He portrays himself as a liberal modernizer, pushing the European Union’s reforming Lisbon Treaty during Portugal’s presidency of the bloc in 2007 and driving forward his country’s technological development. Portugal is in the vanguard of European countries developing clean energy. Socrates also has stood up to the influential Roman Catholic church. His government legalized abortion in 2007, and Socrates said he would allow gay marriage if he was re-elected.

Socrates has been dogged by scandals which have taken the shine off his achievements. He has been accused of involvement in an allegedly murky deal to build a shopping mall, of fraudulently obtaining his university degree and of pressuring journalists who have criticized him. None of those accusations has been proven but have they have eroded his popularity and diverted attentions.

January 8, 2010 – PinkNews

Portugal votes to legalise gay marriage

by Jessica Geen
Portugal’s parliament today voted to legalise marriage for gays and lesbians.
The Catholic country is now the sixth in Europe to grant same-sex couples the right to wed, although this will not include adoption rights.

Addressing lawmakers before the vote, prime minister Jose Socrates said the law "rights a wrong" and would end "pointless suffering". But he added: "This issue of adoption is different as it does not just involve adults who are free to give their consent."

The law will remove any references to gender in the country’s marriage laws. Although centre-right parties opposed the change, all left-wing parties supported it. The law must be approved by President Anibal Cavaco Silva but parliament has the power to override a veto from him. It is expected to come into force in April, a month before Pope Benedict XVI visits the country.

Five other European countries allow gay marriage: Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

April 9, 2010 – Euro News

Portugal’s top court gives gay marriage green light

There is something to celebrate for gay couples in Portugal. Having won parliament’s backing for same-sex marriage, the Constitutional Court has now given its green light to the measure.

The signature of Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva is now all that is needed to make the bill law. He sent it to the country’s top court last month, after expressing doubts over whether it was constitutional. But the tribunal’s president Rui Moura Ramos explained why no problems were found with the proposal. While it does not fit the traditional concept of marriage, as outlined in the constitution, he said this concept is open and can evolve.

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva has 20 days to either veto the legislation or sign it into law. If it is ratified, it would come into effect just ahead of a visit to the staunchly Roman Catholic country by Pope Benedict XVI.

April 23, 2010 – OnTop Magazine

Portugal’s President To Veto Gay Marriage Bill

by On Top Magazine Staff
Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva will veto a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers in February, Radio Renascenca reported. 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 creation. “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 the veto. If the bill is approved, Portugal would join five European countries – Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and, most recently, Sweden – in legalizing gay marriage.

May 17, 2010 – AP

Portugal’s president ratifies gay marriage law

Lisbon, Portugal(AP) — Portugal’s conservative president says he has decided to ratify a law allowing gay marriage in the predominantly Catholic country. The head of state’s decision to permit the enactment of a bill passed by Parliament in January makes Portugal the sixth European country allowing same-sex couples to wed. President Anibal Cavaco Silva announced his decision Monday.

The Socialist government’s bill was backed by all of Portugal’s left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties opposed the measure and demanded a national referendum. Portugal’s Constitutional Court validated the bill’s legality last month.

May 31, 2010 – OnTop Magazine

Portugal’s Gay Marriage Law Takes Effect Next Week

by On Top Magazine Staff
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 nation. 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 and Argentina are also debating the issue.

June 8, 2010 – MS Magazine

Lesbian Couple are First Same-Sex Couple to Marry in Portugal

The first same-sex marriage was performed in Portugal yesterday after the country legalized gay marriage in May. Language altering the country’s constitution to allow for same-sex marriage went into effect yesterday, reported On Top Magazine. The couple, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, have been together since 2003 and played a strong role in campaigning for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the predominantly Catholic country. Pires and Paixao were married during a 15-minute-service in Lisbon, Portugal. They are both divorced Portugese mothers in their 30’s.

The bill that legalized same-sex marriage was passed by Portugal’s Parliament in January and reluctantly ratified by President Anibal Cavaco Silva in May, as he felt that a veto would have been overturned by liberal lawmakers in the country’s Parliament, reported the Associated Press. The conservative party previously sought a national referendum after collecting 90,000 signatures opposing the bill, but the referendum petition was rejected, reported the BBC. Under the new law, same-sex couples are still not allowed to legally adopt children.

The bill makes Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage, after Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway. Many other nations allow same-sex civil unions. According to the Associated Press, Portugal’s socialist government passed the law as part of its effort to modernize Portugal, where homosexuality had been illegal until 1982. The law has faced intense church opposition, although the New York Times reported that "Portuguese society appears to be largely supportive."

December 05, 2010 – OnTop Magazine

Portugal Celebrates 221 Gay Weddings In 6 Months

by On Top Magazine Staff
Six months after a gay marriage law took effect in Portugal, 221 gay and lesbian couples have married, the AFP reported The figures were released Friday by the Ministry of Justice. One-hundred-fifty-six of the couples were male and sixty-five were female.
An additional 202 marriages in which one of the spouses is a Portuguese citizen were performed outside the country. Nineteen gay couples married in Portuguese consulates around the world.

Social Democrats, led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates, approved the gay marriage bill in February. Portugal’s conservative 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. Social conservatives had urged the president to veto the bill.

Days before the bill’s signing, Pope Benedict condemned the institution as he toured the predominantly Roman Catholic nation. Speaking in the city of Fatima, the pope called gay marriage “insidious and dangerous” and urged Catholics to stand united in opposition. The law does not allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

October 8, 2011 – The New York Times

One Country’s Big Gay Leap

by Frank Bruni
When she turned 38 last month, Brenda Frota Johnson got a sweet surprise: a formal “happy birthday” from her longtime partner’s mother. It wasn’t a gift or even a card, just a succinct text message, but even so, it had no precedent over the 10 years that she and her partner, Isabel Advirta, 39, had been making a life and a home here together. Why this birthday? The two women share a theory. “Brenda’s now officially a part of the family,” Advirta said recently as they watched their 3-year-old daughter, Salomé, play in a leafy Lisbon park.
Johnson agreed. “It’s because we’re married,” she said. That legal blessing — that loftiest of imprimaturs — has changed little between them but a lot around them.

With minimal international attention, Portugal — tiny, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Portugal — legalized same-sex marriage last year. Although the country is hardly seen as a Scandinavian-style bastion of social progressivism, it’s one of just 10 countries where such marriages can be performed nationwide, and in this regard it finds itself ahead of a majority of wealthier, more populous European countries, like France, Germany, Italy and Britain. In the United States, only six states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. How did that happen? And what wisdom do the answers offer frustrated supporters of same-sex marriage here and elsewhere around the globe?

With a potent case of Portugal envy, I went there and talked with advocates and politicians at the center of its same-sex-marriage campaign and with gay and lesbian couples who married after the law took effect in June 2010. All were still pleasantly stunned by what Portugal had accomplished. It was only a little more than a decade ago that a country first legalized same-sex marriage, and that happened in precisely the kind of forward-thinking, bohemian place you’d expect: the Netherlands. About two years later, Belgium followed suit.

Read complete story here