Same-sex marriage in Portugal

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Legal status of same-sex unions

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Same-sex marriage in Portugal has been legal since 5 June 2010.[1][2] The Government of Prime Minister José Sócrates introduced a bill for legalization in December 2009; it was passed by the Assembly of the Republic (the Portuguese Parliament) in February 2010. The bill was declared legally valid by the Portuguese Constitutional Court in April 2010. On 17 May 2010, President Aníbal Cavaco Silva ratified the law and Portugal became the sixth country in Europe and the eighth country in the world to allow same-sex marriage nationwide.[3][4] The law was published in the official journal, Diário da República, on 31 May 2010 and became effective on 5 June 2010.[1] The country has also recognized same-sex de facto unions since 2001.


De facto unions[edit]

A de facto union (Portuguese: união de facto; Mirandese: ounion de fato) is a legally recognised union, wherein couples, opposite-sex or same-sex, are granted similar rights and benefits to marriage. Same-sex de facto unions were established through Law no. 7/2001 (Lei n.º 7/2001).

Constitutional Court ruling[edit]

On 1 February 2006, a lesbian couple applied for a marriage licence. Their application was refused, but the couple, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão, promised to challenge the ban in court, saying that it discriminated against them on the basis of sexual orientation, which is banned by the 1976 Constitution.[5] Discrimination based on sexual orientation was made illegal in 2004. In May 2007, the court rejected the motion, and they appealed to the Portuguese Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court received the case in July 2007. Helena and Teresa's lawyer, Luís Grave Rodrigues, presented their allegations on 19 October 2007, including seven legal opinions (pareceres) from Portuguese professors of law arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.[6][7]

On 9 July 2009, the Constitutional Court decided on a 3–2 vote that the Constitution does not demand the recognition of same-sex marriage,[8][9][10] but also does not oppose it, and that the decision must be made by the Assembly of the Republic (the Portuguese Parliament).

Legislative action[edit]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe¹
  Civil union
  Limited domestic recognition (cohabitation)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
¹ May include recent laws or court decisions that have not yet entered into effect.

2008 bills[edit]

Two bills to legalize same-sex marriage were presented to Parliament on 10 October 2008. The bills were introduced separately by the Left Bloc (BE) and the Green Party (PEV). Both bills were rejected by Parliament on opposition from the governing Socialist Party and the main opposition Social Democratic Party.[11][12]

Government 2009-2010 bill[edit]

Prime Minister José Sócrates stated on 18 January 2009 that, if re-elected in the September 2009 elections, he planned to introduce a bill to grant same-sex couples the right to marry. While the bill did not contemplate adoption, most LGBT organizations in Portugal supported the measure as an important step.[13][14][15]

In March 2009, Jorge Lacão, the Secretary of State for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, confirmed that the Socialist Government intended to legalize same-sex marriage if re-elected in 2009.[16] Manuela Ferreira Leite, the leader of the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD), expressed her opposition to the recognition of same-sex marriage.[17]

In May 2009, a grassroots movement, the Movement for Equality in Access to Civil Marriage (Portuguese: Movimento pela Igualdade no acesso ao casamento civil), was formed to campaign for the proposed same-sex marriage law. It attracted the support of several Portuguese celebrities, including Nobel Prize winner José Saramago and the Mayor of Lisbon, António Costa.[18][19]

In October 2009, the newly re-elected José Sócrates made an assurance that the Socialist Party would move ahead with its campaign promise of same-sex marriage. The proposition received strong support from the Left Bloc, with its parliamentary leader presenting a proposed amendment to the Family Code which would make the definition of marriage gender-neutral.[20][21][22][23] In mid-October 2009, Jorge Lacão said it was likely that same-sex marriage would be legalised in early 2010.[24]

On 3 November 2009, José Ribeiro e Castro, a member of the CDS-PP, called for a referendum but the Prime Minister, the Socialist Party and Left Bloc rejected that idea.[25][26][27][28]

On 4 November 2009, Francisco Assis, the parliamentary leader of the Socialist Party, said that the same-sex marriage bill would be voted upon soon and confirmed that the bill would not allow same-sex couples to adopt children.[29][30] On 17 December 2009, the Government approved the same-sex marriage bill.[31][32]

On 8 January 2010, after a debate, which included the intervention of the Prime Minister,[33][34][35] the Portuguese Parliament passed (126-97) the bill in its first reading,[36][37][38] and rejected bills introduced by the Left Bloc and the Green Party, as well as a measure to create registered civil unions submitted by the PSD.[39][40][41][42] On 10 February, the Constitutional Affairs Committee of Parliament approved the bill.[43] The final parliamentary vote took place on 11 February, with the bill being approved.[44][45] On 24 February 2010, the Constitutional Affairs Committee sent the bill to the Portuguese President, Aníbal Cavaco Silva.[46][47]

On 13 March 2010, the President asked the Constitutional Court to verify whether the bill was constitutional.[48][49] On 8 April 2010, the Portuguese Constitutional Court ruled (11–2) for the constitutionality of the bill, with three members concluding that the Constitution required the recognition of same-sex marriages.[50][51][52][53] The ruling was published in the official gazette on 28 April, giving President Aníbal Cavaco Silva twenty days to sign, or veto, the bill.[54][55]

On 17 May 2010, the President signed the bill.[56][57] The law was published in the Diário da República on 31 May 2010 and became effective on 5 June 2010.[1][2] On 7 June, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão became the first lesbian same-sex couple to marry in Portugal.[58][59]

Article 1577 of the Portuguese Civil Code was amended to read as follows:[60]

  • Casamento é o contrato celebrado entre duas pessoas que pretendem constituir família, mediante uma plena comunhão de vida, nos termos das disposições deste Código.
  • (Marriage is a contract between two persons who intend to found a family through a full communion of life, in accordance with the provisions of this Code.)

Same-sex adoption[edit]

On 24 February 2012, Parliament rejected two bills allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.[61][62]

On 17 May 2013, Parliament rejected a bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, in a 104-77 vote. On the same day, Parliament approved in its first reading a bill allowing same-sex married couples to adopt their partner's children (i.e. stepchild adoption).[63] However, that bill was rejected in its second reading on 14 March 2014, in a 107-112 vote.[64]

On 17 January 2014, Parliament approved a resolution to hold a referendum on adoption rights for same-sex couples.[65][66][67] On 28 January, President Aníbal Cavaco Silva asked the Constitutional Court to verify whether the resolution was constitutional.[68][69] On 19 February 2014, the Court declared the resolution unconstitutional.[70][71] Subsequently, Cavaco Silva vetoed it the following day.[72][73][74]

On 20 November 2015, Parliament approved 5 bills allowing same-sex adoption in their first readings. The bills were sent to the Committee for Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees.[75][76][77][78][79][80] On 16 December, the committee merged the bills into one project and voted for its approval.[81][82] On 18 December, the bill was approved by Parliament in its second, final vote.[83][84] The President vetoed the bill on 23 January 2016, with the decision being announced publicly on 25 January.[85][86][87] On 10 February 2016, the veto was overridden by Parliament.[88][89] It was published in the official journal on 29 February. The law took effect the first day of the first month after its publication (i.e. 1 March 2016).[90]

Marriage statistics[edit]

One year after the law came into force, approximately 380 same-sex marriages had taken place in Portugal.[91]

In 2013, 305 same-sex couples married in the country, 98 were lesbian couples and 207 were gay male couples. In 2014, that number slightly increased. 308 same-sex marriages occurred that year, 127 were between women and 181 were between men. 1% of all marriages performed in 2014 were between same-sex couples.[92]

From June 2010 to June 2015, 1,591 same-sex couples wed in Portugal. 1,060 of these couples were male couples and 531 were female couples.[93]

33,111 couples married in Portugal in 2017. Of these, 523 (1.58%) were couples of the same sex. There were 282 marriages between two men and 241 marriages between two women.[94]

In 2018, the number of same-sex marriages increased to 607, representing about 1.75% of all marriages. The overall number of marriages also increased to 34,637.[95] There were also 35 same-sex marriages performed in Azores and Madeira.[96]


A number of groups opposed legalizing same-sex marriage during the process of discussion and have continued to do so after ratification.

The Catholic Church in Portugal was opposed to the law and, while Portugal is a constitutional secular country, its status as a historically Catholic country was also a reason for the media sensationalism which heightened the controversy over the law.[97][98] On 13 May 2010, during an official visit to Portugal four days before the ratification of the law, Pope Benedict XVI, affirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage, describing it as "insidious and dangerous".[99][100]

In February, 5,000 people demonstrated against the legalization of same-sex marriage in a march in Lisbon.[101]

Marriage norms[edit]

On 19 July 2010, the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado published the following rules on marriage:[102]

  • Marriages conducted abroad must be transcribed by civil registries even if they were made before the approval date of same-sex marriage;
  • Marriages performed under alternative legislation to civil marriage, such as civil partnerships and civil unions, cannot be transcribed;
  • Foreign nationals can marry even if marriage between same-sex couples is not recognized in their country of origin;
  • Same-sex foreign nationals can marry in Portugal without the need to establish residency;
  • Co-adoptions with same-sex couples performed abroad are recognised in Portugal. (Amended in 2016)

Public opinion[edit]

The 2015 Eurobarometer found that 61% of Portuguese thought that same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, 33% were against.[103]

A Pew Research Center poll, conducted between April and August 2017 and published in May 2018, showed that 59% of Portuguese people supported same-sex marriage, 28% were opposed and 13% didn't know or refused to answer.[104] When divided by religion, 82% of religiously unaffiliated people, 64% of non-practicing Christians and 43% of church-attending Christians supported same-sex marriage.[105] Opposition was 14% among 18-34-year-olds.[106]

The 2019 Eurobarometer found that 74% of Portuguese thought same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, 20% were against.[107]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c (in Portuguese) Lei n.º 9/2010 de 31 de Maio Permite o casamento civil entre pessoas do mesmo sexo
  2. ^ a b (in Portuguese) Segunda-feira já vai ser possível celebrar casamentos entre pessoas do mesmo sexo
  3. ^ Hatton, Barry (May 17, 2010). "Portugal's president ratifies gay marriage law". Associated Press. Google News. Archived from the original on June 5, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  4. ^ Portugal's president to ratify same-sex marriage law
  5. ^ Portugal blocks lesbian marriage
  6. ^ (in Portuguese) Pareceres de personalidades sustentam alegações de recurso entregue no TConstitucional Archived 2008-03-20 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ (in Portuguese) "Quero-as casadas na Primavera"
  8. ^ RULING No. 359/2009
  9. ^ RULING Nº 359/2009 - Summary
  10. ^ Portugal Gay Marriage Ban Upheld By Court
  11. ^ Portugal Says No to Gay Marriage Archived 2013-09-01 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Portugal's Parliament Votes Against Gay Marriage
  13. ^ Portugal May Be Next in Line for Gay Marriage
  14. ^ (in Portuguese) Sócrates quer casamento gay e referendo à regionalização
  15. ^ (in Portuguese) Sócrates quer maioria absoluta, promete referendo à regionalização e defende casamento homossexual
  16. ^ (in Portuguese) Portugal: Governo promete legalizar casamento homossexual na próxima legislatura
  17. ^ (in Portuguese) Ferreira Leite admite discriminar casais 'gay'
  18. ^ Same-sex marriage campaign launched in Portugal Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ (in Portuguese) José Saramago, Lídia Jorge e Daniel Sampaio apoiam casamento entre homossexuais
  20. ^ (in Portuguese) BE disponível para aprovar a curto prazo casamento homossexual
  21. ^ (in Portuguese) Casamentos gay: BE já entregou diploma para legalização
  22. ^ (in Portuguese) BE avança hoje com casamento homossexual
  23. ^ Portugal to legalize same-sex marriage
  24. ^ (in Portuguese) Portugal: Casamento gay já durante o próximo ano ? Archived 2010-04-01 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ (in Portuguese) Casamentos homossexuais: Ribeiro e Castro quer referendo
  26. ^ (in Portuguese) Casamentos entre homossexuais avançam
  27. ^ (in Portuguese) BE considera "descabido" fazer referendo ao casamento homossexual
  28. ^ (in Portuguese) Sócrates rejeita referendo sobre casamento gay
  29. ^ (in Portuguese) PS: casamento gay sem referendo, mas nada de adopção
  30. ^ (in Portuguese) Francisco Assis recusa a ideia de referendo ao casamento homossexual
  31. ^ Portugal tipped to allow gay marriage
  32. ^ Portuguese govt aims to permit gay marriage
  33. ^ (in Portuguese) Apresentação da Proposta de Lei do casamento civil entre pessoas do mesmo sexo
  34. ^ "Portugal's Prime Minister: Gay marriage fundamental to equality". (Croatia). 2010-01-08. Archived from the original on 2010-02-09. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  35. ^ "Portuguese Government debates legalisation of gay marriage". Demotix. 2010-01-08. Archived from the original on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  36. ^ "Same-sex marriage law backed in Portugal's parliament". BBC. 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  37. ^ "Portugal MPs approve gay marriage". RTÉ News. 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  38. ^ Same-sex marriage in Portugal
  39. ^ Casamento Homossexual: Parlamento chumba diplomas BE e PEV e projecto PSD para união civil registada
  40. ^ "Projeto de Lei 14/XI" (in Portuguese). Assembleia Da Republica. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  41. ^ "Projeto de Lei 24/XI" (in Portuguese). Assembleia Da Republica. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  42. ^ "Projeto de Lei 119/XI" (in Portuguese). Assembleia Da Republica. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  43. ^ (in Portuguese) Casamento homossexual: diploma aprovado sem alterações na especialidade
  44. ^ Portuguese Lawmakers Approve Gay Marriage Bill
  45. ^ Gay marriage approved by the Portuguese Parliament
  46. ^ Portugal's Gay Marriage Bill Receives Final Approval
  47. ^ (in Portuguese) Casamento gay: redacção final do diploma aprovada
  48. ^ Portugal Gay Marriage Bill Forwarded To Constitutional Court
  49. ^ (in Portuguese) Casamento gay: Cavaco pede fiscalização do diploma
  50. ^ RULING No. 121/2010
  51. ^ RULING Nº 121/2010 - Summary
  52. ^ Portugal's Constitutional Court OKs Gay Marriage
  53. ^ Portuguese High Court Approve Same-Sex Marriage Law
  54. ^ 20 Days To Decide On Gay Marriage In Portugal
  55. ^ (in Portuguese) Acórdão que dá luz verde ao casamento gay publicado hoje em Diário da República
  56. ^ Pope leaves, Portuguese President signs gay marriage pact
  57. ^ Lawmakers In Portugal Legalize Gay Marriage
  58. ^ Portugal lesbian couple in nation's first gay marriage
  59. ^ Lesbian couple Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao wed in Portugal
  60. ^ "Código Civil, Artigo 1577.°". (in Portuguese).
  61. ^ Gay rights: Lawmakers defeat adoption bill for couples
  62. ^ Portugal rejects that gay couples can adopt
  63. ^ Portugal Expands Adoption Rights for Gay Couples
  64. ^ (in Portuguese) Projeto de Lei 278/XII
  65. ^ (in Portuguese) Aprovado referendo sobre coadoção de crianças por casais do mesmo sexo
  66. ^ (in Portuguese) Projeto de Resolução 857/XII
  67. ^ Resolução da Assembleia da República n.º 6-A/2014
  68. ^ President of the Republic requested from the Constitutional Court the prior investigation of the constitutionality and legality of the proposal for a referendum on the co-adoption and adoption by same gender couples
  69. ^ (in Portuguese) Presidente enviou referendo à coadoção para o Tribunal Constitucional
  70. ^ RULING No. 176/14 - summary
  71. ^ (in Portuguese) Referendo sobre coadoção é inconstitucional
  72. ^ (in Portuguese) Presidente da República devolve ao parlamento proposta sobre coadoção
  73. ^ (in Portuguese) RESOLUÇÃO DA ASSEMBLEIA DA REPÚBLICA N.º 6-A/2014 - Mensagem do Presidente da República relativa à devolução, sem promulgação, da Resolução por ter sido declarada inconstitucional pelo Tribunal Constitucional
  74. ^ President of the Republic returned to Parliament the proposal on a referendum on co-adoption and adoption by same gender couples
  75. ^ Portugal Allows Same-Sex Adoption, Artificial Insemination (New York Times)
  76. ^ (in Portuguese) Projeto de Lei 2/XIII
  77. ^ (in Portuguese) Projeto de Lei 5/XIII
  78. ^ (in Portuguese) Projeto de Lei 28/XIII
  79. ^ (in Portuguese) Projeto de Lei 11/XIII
  80. ^ (in Portuguese) Projeto de Lei 31/XIII
  81. ^ (in Portuguese) Texto Final e Relatório da discussão e votação na especialidade CACDLG
  82. ^ (in Portuguese) Adopção por casais do mesmo sexo aprovada na especialidade
  83. ^ Adoção por casais do mesmo sexo aprovada. 17 do PSD a favor, Passos não
  84. ^ Votação final: 17 deputados do PSD votaram a favor da adoção plena
  85. ^ (in Portuguese) Presidente da República devolveu ao Parlamento, para reapreciação, diploma relativo a normas sobre a adoção por casais do mesmo sexo
  86. ^ Portugal president vetoes bills liberalizing abortion, same-sex adoption
  87. ^ Portugal's outgoing president vetoes gay adoption bill
  88. ^ Portugal parliament overturns veto on adoption by gay couples
  89. ^ Portugal lawmakers overturn veto on gay rights, abortion law
  90. ^ Lei n.º 2/2016 de 29 de fevereiro
  91. ^ "Há um casamento homossexual por dia". Expresso (in Portuguese). 4 June 2011.
  92. ^ "Casamento entre homossexuais representa quase 1% dos casamentos em Portugal". Porto Canal (in Portuguese). 1 March 2015.
  93. ^ "Quase 1.600 casamentos entre homossexuais em cinco anos". Observador (in Portuguese). 4 June 2015.
  94. ^ Filomena Launches (30 April 2018). "Em Portugal morre-se menos, mas também se nasce menos. E casa-se mais". Jornal de Negócios (in Portuguese).
  95. ^ João Saramago (30 April 2019). "Casamento gay aumenta 16% e chega a 607 uniões". Correio da Manhã (in Portuguese).
  96. ^ "Marriages (No.) by Place of registration (NUTS - 2013) and Marriage modality; Annual". Statistics Portugal.
  97. ^ Catholic Portugal set to legalize gay marriage
  98. ^ Same-sex marriages hot debate in deeply Catholic Portugal
  99. ^ In Portugal, Pope Calls Gay Marriage An 'Insidious' Threat
  100. ^ Pope says gay marriage is 'insidious and dangerous'
  101. ^ Thousands Protest Portugal's Upcoming Gay Marriage Law
  102. ^ (in Portuguese) Despacho 87/2010
  103. ^ Special Eurobarometer 437 Archived 2016-01-22 at the Wayback Machine
  104. ^ Religion and society, Pew Research Center, 29 May 2018
  105. ^ Being Christian in Western Europe, Pew Research Center, 29 May 2018
  106. ^ Eastern and Western Europeans Differ on Importance of Religion, Views of Minorities, and Key Social Issues, Pew Research Center, 2017
  107. ^ "Eurobarometer on Discrimination 2019: The social acceptance of LGBTI people in the EU". TNS. European Commission. p. 2. Retrieved 23 September 2019.