Portugal’s first gay newlyweds vow to fight for parenting rights

in News · 12-06-2010 00:00:00 · 0 Comments
Portugal’s first gay newlyweds vow to fight for parenting rights

A lesbian couple who have become Portugal’s first same-sex couple to wed in an official ceremony, since the passing of the law allowing gay marriage last month, have now vowed that the next step in their fight for equality will be to tackle parenting rights, including the issue of adoption by same-sex couples.

Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão, both divorced mothers in their 30s and who have been together for seven years, married on Monday this week in a 15-minute ceremony at a Lisbon registry office.
“The next fight is for equal rights in areas such as parenting, but not just regarding adoption”, Teresa Pires told journalists as the newlywed couple left the Lisbon registrar’s office.
The couple’s lawyer, Luís Rodrigues, who for several years has assisted their fight for the right to marry, stressed that the current law, by not allowing adoption, is unconstitutional.
“There is just one right that is left out at the moment”, he said, adding that in his opinion homosexual couples should have the same rights of parenting as heterosexual couples, including, for example, medically-aided procreation.
This week Teresa, 33, and Helena, 40, made history by becoming Portugal’s first same-sex couple to legally wed.
The women, who will take each others’ last names, claim that this week “their dream came true” after years of campaigning and fighting.
Around 30 people, representatives of various homosexual rights association and campaigners, erupted into applause as the Registry Office clerk legalised their union.
The women’s two daughters, from previous heterosexual relationships, were also present at the ceremony, which lasted less than half an hour.
Teresa and her partner Helena Paixão became well-known in Portugal by becoming the first lesbian couple to try to marry. At the time Portugal did not allow same-sex unions. Teresa and Helena first applied to be married in February 2006, a request which was denied. They submitted a second application after the same-sex marriage law was passed in Portugal on May 17th this year.
In January this year the couple made an appearance on television during the Parliamentary debates regarding homosexual marriage. In March they spoke out against the discrimination they had suffered since their sexuality became public.
“From then onwards society started to look at us differently and we haven’t stopped having to move house and even move location”, Teresa said at the time.
The family had been living in Paredes de Coura for two years before being served with an “unexpected” eviction notice that they believe was issued on the basis they are a homosexual couple.
Teresa added, “Our landlady called us immediately and intimidated us into moving out before the end of that month. Is that anything but preconception or discrimination?”
As well as Portugal, marriage between homosexuals is permitted in Holland, Belgium, Spain and Canada, as well as in the state of Massachusetts, USA.
Most Nordic countries as well as the UK have created a parallel system that concedes equal rights to same-sex couples as to couples of different sexes, but without using the designation ‘marriage’.
South Africa is one of few countries in the world with the exception of Portugal whose constitution “explicitly forbids” the discrimination of individuals based on sexual orientation. The South African Constitutional Courts forced parliament to change its Code of Civil Conduct, which also only allowed marriage between people of different sexes.


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