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Portuguese campaigners petition parliament for same-sex marriage February 16, 2006

Posted by igualdadenocasamento in Imprensa Estrangeira, Petição da ILGA, Portugal.

LISBON (AFP) – Portuguese gay rights campaigners submitted a petition to parliament with over 5,000 signatures urging the assembly to change the law to permit same-sex marriages.

Several celebrities, literary figures and left-wing lawmakers signed the petition, which demands that the law in the strongly Catholic country be changed so that homosexuals are no longer treated as “second-class citizens”.

Under Portuguese law, petitions accompanied by more than 4,000 valid signatures that are submitted to parliament must be analyzed by the assembly. It can then decide whether or not to put the issue to a full parliamentary debate.

Since neighbouring Spain legalized same-sex marriage last year, pressure from gay rights campaigners has been mounting in Portugal for Lisbon to do the same.

The issue gained prominence earlier this month when a lesbian couple filed a legal challenge to the law after their request for a marriage licence was turned down by a Lisbon registry office.

Gay rights campaigners argue that the law which stipulates that marriage must be between a man and a woman is illegal as it contradicts the constitution. The constitution was altered in 2004 to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“Portugal is the only nation in Europe whose constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Manuel Morais, the president of the Portuguese branch of the Brussels-based International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).

“It is based on this that we have proposed our petition asking that the law be changed to give same-sex couples access to civil marriage,” he added after delivering the petition to the speaker of the parliament, Jaime Gama.

The tiny Left Bloc party plans to submit a bill to parliament which would authorize same-sex civil marriages.

But the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Socrates, which enjoys a majority in parliament, has said it has has no plans to alter the legal definition of marriage.

Gay couples were in 2001 given some of the same legal and tax benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples in common law marriages.

Public opinion polls show a majority of people in Portugal oppose allowing gay marriages.

Yahoo News (Estados Unidos) e IOL (África do Sul)

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