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Portuguese gay couple try to marry, change law February 1, 2006

Posted by igualdadenocasamento in Portugal.
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By Axel Bugge

LISBON (Reuters) – Two Portuguese women tried to get married on Wednesday and take advantage of a discrepancy in the law to highlight homosexual rights in this conservative country.

The two women, holding hands as they became the first homosexuals to try to register their marriage in Portugal, expected to be turned down but said they had already presented an appeal in the courts.

“Our desire to get married is just as strong as heterosexual couples,” Teresa Pires, 28, told reporters as she left the public registration office where she and her partner had chosen to register their marriage.

“We want to get married in our country, we are Portuguese,” she said. Portugal is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

The couple is basing their case on Portugal’s 1975 constitution, which bans sexual discrimination, arguing that two women have the same right to marry as a man and a woman. Portugal’s civil code, however, bans same-sex marriages.

The couple will receive the formal response to their marriage request on Thursday but the women’s lawyer, Luis Grave Rodrigues, said he was sure they would be denied.

Neighboring Spain allowed homosexual marriages last year, joining a number of European countries, such as the Netherlands and Belgium.

“I think Portugal is not ready for this,” said Francisco Sarsfield Cabral, a commentator and editor at Radio Renascenca, which is owned by the Catholic Church and is Portugal’s largest radio station.

Parliament’s left-wing opposition bloc on Wednesday presented a motion to legalize homosexual marriages. The ruling Socialist Party, which has a majority in parliament, has not adopted a position on the issue.

Sarsfield Cabral said Portugal is tolerant of homosexuals. “I think that people here are very tolerant of different ways of living, but changing the law is different,” he said.

Reuters (Estados Unidos)

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