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.
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 Â to parliament with more than 90,000 signatures demanding a referendum on the subject.
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 couplesÂ – 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.