Portugal’s parliament has passed a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in the predominantly Catholic country, but has rejected gay adoption.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who supported the same-sex marriage legislation, explained that the “issue of adoption is different as it does not just involve adults who are free to give their consent”.

The marriage bill still needs ratification by President Anibal Cavaco Silva. Should he veto the law this could be overturned by parliament.

The ratification would make Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow marriages of same-sex partners after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway and Sweden.

“It is truly a fantastic start of 2010 for LGBT people in Portugal and Europe as a whole. It is clear that a European consensus is fast emerging on marriage equality,” commented Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe).

The organisation’s other Co-Chair, Linda Freimane, added: “We have to cross our fingers for the ratification, and certainly not forget that there still is a fight for full equality – and that is also including entitlement to adoption.”

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