Portugal: Parliament to Consider Same-Sex Registered Partnerships

In June 1997, the governing Socialist Party in Portugal introduced a bill on registered partnerships, which would permit official recognition of same­sex couples and would extend to them most of the privileges of heterosexual marriage, excluding adoption. Consideration of the measure in Parliament is scheduled for January 1998.

Originally, Socialist Members of Parliament had expressed reluctance to include same­sex couples in the registered partnership bill. Lobbying by Portugal's lesbian and gay organization, Associação ILGA­Portugal, helped convince them to change their official position.

Opposition to the proposal, however, was instant and intense. On June 13, 1997, the most respected weekly newspaper in Portugal, "Expresso," described the Catholic Church as already "preparing for war." One Church leader was quoted as calling the measure a "desacralization of the family which weakens the State and reminds one of the fall of the Roman Empire." Center­right parties in the Parliament, as well as some independent Socialist MPs, are expected to fight the bill.

Associação ILGA­Portugal asks for letters to leaders of all the major parliamentary groupings, calling on them to support the existing language of the bill. Letters should ask them to ensure that same­sex couples remain recognized in the final version of the bill, and are extended rights corresponding to those of heterosexual couples. Letters should stress that furthering the principle of equality will confirm and deepen democracy. Moreover, the equal rights of gays and lesbians have been affirmed by European institutions with which Portugal is affiliated, most notably the European Community; the 1994 Roth Resolution of the European Parliament specifically urges an end to "barring homosexual couples from legal institutions alternative to marriage."

Letters should be sent to:

Lider do Grupo Parlamentar do Partido Socialista
FAX: 351­1­397­9381
Lider do Grupo Parlamentar do Partido Social Democrata
FAX: 351­1­395­5948
Lider do Grupo Parlamentar do Partido Comunista
FAX: 351­1­395­1097
Lider do Grupo Parlamentar do Partido Popular
FAX: 351­1­601­047
Lider do Grupo Parlamentar do Partido Os Verdes
FAX: 351­1­605­574

All have the same postal address:

Assembleia da Republica
Palacio de Sao Bento
Rua de Sao Bento