Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva has announced he will ratify a law that legalizes gay marriage in the predominantly Catholic country, making it the sixth European country to do so.
The law stops short of allowing adoption rights
Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a practicing Roman Catholic, said late Monday he was setting aside his "personal convictions" in his decision to ratify his country's same-sex marriage law, though he did not elaborate and declined to take questions from reporters.
He added that he would not veto the bill because lawmakers would just overturn his decision, and that the country needed to focus on addressing Portugal's rising unemployment and poverty amid the crippling economic crisis.
The law, which removes references in Portugal's statutes that define marriage as being between two people of different sexes, was passed by the center-left majority parliament last January. Opposition right-of-center parties voted against the law.
The law also explicitly states that same-sex couples, even if they are married, do not have the right to adopt children.
Silva said Portugal should be focusing on the country's economic crisis
On a visit to the predominantly Catholic country last week, Pope Benedict XVI called same-sex marriages "insidious and dangerous threats to the common good."
Many European countries offer some form of legal recognition to same-sex couples, but Portugal joins only Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway in Europe - along with Canada and South Africa - in offering full marriage rights.
Germany allows same-sex couples to enter "registered life partnerships" that offer inheritance rights but not tax benefits or adoption rights.
Editor: Martin Kuebler