Friday, July 31, 2009

Portugal’s Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge To Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Lez Get Real

Portugal’s Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge To Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Lez Get Real

A Constitutional Court in Portugal has upheld the constitutionality of a same sex marriage ban in that country and rejected an appeal filed by a lesbian couple who are unable to marry because Portugal’s constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.

The women were first denied the right to marry in a civil registry office in 2006 and challenged that decision by using an article of the Portuguese Constitution that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However, the court said in a statement it had reviewed a earlier successful appeal by the two women, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, against a lower court ruling, which had denied them the right to wed, and reverted to the lower court’s verdict by three votes to two, saying the Portuguese constitution does not say same-sex marriage must be permitted.

“The decision makes more evident the urgency of solving this issue via parliament by parties wanting to fight discrimination and promote basic equality,” the Portuguese chapter of the International Gay and Lesbian Association said in a statement sent to LGR this afternoon.

The Constitutional Court is the final word on constitutional issues in the Portugal, but the women now say they will appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights and despite this setback; marriage equality in predominantly Catholic Portugal appears to be gaining some support, despite strong opposition to it from the church.

Socialist Party Prime Minister Jose Socrateshas pledged Wednesday to introduce a marriage equality bill if re-elected in September’s general election.

The Vatican is always strongly opposed to granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in any country. In 2005 bordering Spain legalized marriage equality and the Vatican has called for the government’s ouster ever since.

Portuguese law presently offers same-sex civil unions to gay and lesbian couples that provides for a basic set of legal rights.

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