Same-sex marriages begin in Portugal

by Rex Wockner

International News Briefs

Same-sex marriages began taking place in Portugal June 7 when the law legalizing them took effect.

The first couple to marry were Helena Pires Paixao and Teresa Paixao Pires, who had lost a Constitutional Court case seeking the right to marry just a year ago. They tied the knot at a Lisbon registry office accompanied by family, friends and lots of journalists. The wedding was broadcast live on national TV.

"There were no signs of hostility whatsoever and Portugal did not sink into the ocean after the event," said correspondent Joao Paulo from PortugalGay.pt.

Portugal is the eighth country to permit same-sex marriage nationwide, following Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Iceland passed a law June 11 legalizing same-sex marriage, which will take effect on June 27.

Same-sex couples also can marry in Mexico City and in the U.S. jurisdictions of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Getting married in Portugal is easy. A couple can launch the process and be married "in less than 60 minutes," Paulo said.

The law change specifically withheld the right to gay adoption.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates had lunch with LGBT activists from ILGA-Europe, ILGA-Portugal and other groups on May 31 to celebrate same-sex marriage.

"This moment reinforces the national and international recognition of the work done by civil society in order to push forward this milestone against discrimination," said ILGA-Portugal board president Paulo Corte-Rea.

Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, said Portugal's legalization of same-sex marriage "signals that more governments in Europe are recognizing that this is an issue of human rights and equality, which countries with different cultural, social and political backgrounds are ready to embrace."

ILGA's long-form name is International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

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