Portugal MPs approve gay marriage
LISBON — Portugal's parliament Friday approved plans to legalise gay marriage, less than three decades after revoking the country's ban on homosexuality. The parliament voted in favour of the bill to legalize same sex marriages by a clear majority. However, members rejected proposals to give gay couples the right to adopt.
Members of Portugal's Socialist Party backed the bill as it faced its first reading. The bill heads to a committee for review before returning for a final vote. Lawmakers say they hope to legalize gay marriage before a May visit by Pope Benedict XVI.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates said the aim of the legislation was to remedy decades of injustice towards gays, recalling that as recently as 1982 homosexuality was a crime in Portugal.
"I am of a generation -- as we all are -- which is not proud of the way it treated homosexuals," the prime minister said before lawmakers in parliament.
"This is a step that will seem completely natural in the near future, in the same way that gender equality, abortion rights and unmarried couples living together are normal now.
"Gay marriage has been approved by numerous countries and will be approved by many more. I have no doubt about that."