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Portugal rejects gay partner adoption law

Published on 14/03/2014

Lisbon Friday shot down a law that would allow same-sex couples to adopt the child of their partner, a step back for gay rights in Portugal.

The so-called “co-parenting” bill, backed by the left-leaning opposition in Portugal’s 230-seat parliament, was rejected by a narrow majority.

The law would have allowed that “when two people of the same sex are married or cohabiting and one of them has parental responsibility for a minor, by blood or adoption, the spouse may adopt the minor”.

The bill was adopted in its first reading in May 2013 — to the surprise of many observers in the largely Catholic country — partly due to the absence of some 30 lawmakers from Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s ruling Social Democratic party.

On Friday the proposal was rejected by 112 votes against, mainly from the centre-right coalition government, 107 against and four abstentions, according to Speaker Maria da Assuncao Esteves.

Single gay people can adopt a child in Portugal, but a February 2010 law allowing gay marriage specifically prohibits same-sex couples from adopting.

EU law on adoption by same-sex couples made an important breakthrough last year when the European Court of Human Rights overturned an Austrian court judgement that prohibited a woman from adopting the son of her lesbian partner.

The Strasbourg-based court noted that such discrimination was enshrined in the legal systems of other European countries, including Portugal, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.

Berlin this week endorsed a bill allowing gay people to adopt the children of their partner, but same-sex adoption remains illegal in Germany.