Portugal’s Socialist government has drawn up a proposal that would make Portugal the sixth European country to allow gay marriage
The law is almost certain to pass, as the center-left Socialist government has the support of all left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties oppose the measure.
The proposal changes Portuguese law to remove references to marriage being between two people of different sexes, Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira told a news conference Thursday, adding the government will send its proposal to lawmakers for a debate, probably in January.
If approved by Parliament, the proposed law goes to Portugal’s conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who can ratify or veto it. A veto can be overturned by Parliament.
If there is no presidential veto, the first gay marriage ceremonies could take place in April – a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on a four-day official visit.
Gay marriage is currently permitted in five European countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway.