Portugal holds first same-sex marriage

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The six-colour version of the pride flag.

A lesbian couple, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, married in a Lisbon registry office on Monday. As they kissed and hugged Pires said, "This is a great victory, a dream come true," and that they would continue to fight for equal rights for homosexuals, including adoption.

The couple had campaigned for a change in the law since 2006, when they were turned away from a registry office. Officials said the law stipulated that marriage was between people of different sexes. They appealed to Portugal's Constitutional Court, saying that the constitution forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the Court rejected their appeal.

Afterwards the government of José Sócrates introduced a bill removing the reference to marriage being between different sexes. The bill was passed by parliament in January and ratified by conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva in May.

The government said the law is part of its effort to modernize Portugal, where homosexuality was a crime until 1982. Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country and is the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex couples marriages, after Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

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