Portugal overturns presidential veto to legalise same-sex adoption

Portugal’s parliament has just overturned the presidential veto on a bill to legalise same-sex adoption there.

The new law had passed through Portugal’s Parliament last last year, granting full adoption rights to same-sex couples, and allowing lesbian couples to receive medically assisted fertilisation.

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, of the centre-right Social Democratic Party, blocked the law just two months before he was set to leave office.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva will now be forced to sign the law.

Two women hug each other as they celebrate after the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon approved on November 20, 2015 four bills giving couples -including unmarried and same-sex couples- full rights to adoption. In Portugal any individual can apply to adopt but a gay marriage law passed in 2010 explicitly excluded adoption for same-sex couples. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA

The conservative president will sign the law before his term ends in March.

A motion to overturn the veto passed by 137 votes in the parliament, which has 230 seats.

Its passage was supported by the ruling Socialist party, as well as the Communist and Left Bloc parties.

The president had also vetoed changes to the abortion law which removed obstacles to voluntary interruption of pregnancy.

The changes will also now still be introduced.

The president had claimed in a statement that the law doesn’t regard “the child’s best interest” as a priority, which he claims is more important than equality for gay couples.

He added: “It is important that such a big change on a sensitive social topic is not entered into force without a broad public debate.”

Under the Portuguese constitution, the president now has eight days to sign the bill into law.

Despite the stalling on the issue, many same-sex couples are already raising children together in Portugal under existing laws.

Since 2013, gay people have been permitted to adopt their partner’s children – while any individual, gay or straight, can legally adopt on their own.

Despite this, same-sex couples were explicitly banned from doing so as a couple in 2010.

Although the country is progressive on some LGBT issues, 81 percent of Portugal’s population is Catholic – and the powerful Catholic church remains staunchly opposed to same-sex parenting.