It’s a miracle! Catholics fail to agitate against gay marriage in Portugal

CATHOLIC Portugal, traditionally one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries, is expected to approve gay marriage today without any of the fundie tantrums that normally accompany progress of this sort.

With the governing Socialists and other left-wing parties enjoying a strong majority, the new law – according to this report – is likely to sail through the first reading debate and gain final approval before the dilapidated old Ratzinger visits Portugal in May.

In contrast to now-nominally Catholic Spain, where the lead-up to gay marriage in 2005 brought hundreds of thousands of right-wing religious loons onto the streets, the bill in Portugal has provoked only muted opposition – even from the right.

Cardinal Policarpo keeps his nose out of politics

While normally vocal on the role of marriage and the family in society, the Catholic Church has refused to mobilise on a subject which, according to Lisbon’s Cardinal Patriarch Jose Policarpo, is “parliament’s responsibility”.

Wow! That’s gotta be a first!

Miguel Vale de Almeida, Portugal’s first openly-gay lawmaker who was elected in September, said:

I think the Portuguese people have learnt one of the fundamental tenets of democracy: respect for the rights of the individual.

Vale de Almeida added that there was now a political majority in favour of gay marriage, and that it is:

Too simplistic to link Catholicism and conservatism.

According to poll conducted late last year by the Eurosondagem institute, while a strong majority (68.4 percent) of Portuguese are opposed to adoptions by same-sex couples, they are more evenly divided when it comes to gay marriage with 49.5 percent against, with 45.5 percent in favour.

On Tuesday, campaigners handed a petition  to parliament with more than 90,000 signatures demanding a referendum on the subject.

Miguel Vale de Almeida

But having had its fingers burnt by two referendums which preceded the legalisation of abortion in 2007, the government has ruled out consulting with the public as the measure was part of its manifesto in last year’s election.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates’ Socialists may have lost their majority in the September 27 election, but still command the support of other left-wing parties in parliament who should guarantee that the gay marriage bill is passed.

While opposed to the concept of same-sex marriages, the centre-right opposition Social Democrat party says it is favour of a civil partnership that would give gays and lesbians the same rights as heterosexual couples  – minus adoptions.

Deputies are also expected to vote today on two other bills submitted by the Green party, the Left Bloc and others that would grant gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children.

If the gay marriage proposals do pass through parliament, they will the have to go through a parliamentary commission before coming back for the final approval.

According to media reports, both the government and the Catholic Church want the gay marriage issue to be resolved before the visit of the pope, scheduled for May 11-14.

7 responses to “It’s a miracle! Catholics fail to agitate against gay marriage in Portugal”

  1. David B says:

    Nice to see some good news for a change:)

    Off to link to this at my favourite discussion board.

    David B

  2. Alec s thompson says:

    Finally a priest that knows its place. Yay! Lets hope ratzanazi takes note (but dont hold your breath)

  3. RubberBaron says:

    They’ve a sensible drug policy in Portugal too: Portugal Drug Policy (Time to move?)

  4. Stonyground says:

    Have the RCC looked around the world and realised that it is a fight that they cannot win?

    Thinking back, I first became aware of Gay Marriage/Civil Partnerships as an issue, was when listening to the radio while working in Ireland. (I live in the mainland UK.) A gay man who’s partner had died had lost half of his house to his partner’s homophobic parents because of the way that the law was set up. He was forced to sell the house and move into rented accomodation and because of the way the law worked at the time, there appeared to be no legal way around this, even if you knew in advance that one partner was going to die. This radio item absolutely made the case that a change in the law was needed.

    A short time later a Christian organisation ran newspaper ads in the UK pointing out that Co-habiting brothers or sisters would face the same injustice. But instead of campaigning for said siblings to be accorded the same rights that were being proposed for gay couples, they preferred to use this as an argument against civil partnerships.
    I think that this says quite a lot about their mentality.

  5. […] gay marriage yesterday maked Portugal the sixth in Europe to approve same-sex unions – and, as we pointed out yesterday, it all came about without interference from the Catholic […]

  6. […] He made his views known just days after the Portuguese administration voted to legalise gay marriage. […]

  7. Pedro says:

    we re not that conservative, and we did have (at least) two atheist/agnostic presidents (Soares and Sampaio).. and church and state are separate.