- 17 May 2013 : Co-parental adoption by homosexual couples
The most recent debate in Portugal is about the co-parental adoption by homosexual couples. On 17 May this year – the International Day Against Homophobia –, the parliament approved a draft law (n.º 278/XII) of the Socialist Party (PS) which allows homosexuals to co-adopt the biological or adopted children of the person with whom they are married or live in a domestic partnership. The subject divided the parliament with 99 votes in favour (deputies from the leftist parties – BE, PCP, PEV –, the majority of PS and 16 deputies from the social democratic party (PSD), that enabled the approval of the law), 94 against and 9 abstentions.
Meanwhile, in the public sphere, the debate has been the subject of several interventions. The main argument from the people in favour – mainly from a leftist wing and LGBT movements – is that this children and families already exist, they have the right to the recognition of their parental figures at all levels, in health, in education and in the event of the death of the only person who has been legally recognized. This movement is motivated by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights which condemned Austria for not allowing a case of co-parental adoption by two women, and the recent legislative change in France.
Against the draft law we must underline the intervention of the right wing parties, the main representative of lawyers in Portugal and the Portuguese Catholic Church. Based on biological and anthropological arguments, they defend that the co-parental adoption collides head-on with the fundamental right of a child to have a mother and a father, regardless of the rights of the adults. For the Catholic Church, according to the spokesman of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), “only a couple of a man and a woman have the objective anthropological structure for the harmonious education of a child”. The bishop of Braga even accused this draft law of being an argument to justify a “camouflaged marriage”, which is in fact the same-sex marriage. The law, in his perspective, “offends the dignity of the children” and “satisfies sectarian whims and scruples” of a group of people that “advocated very recently the abortion law”.
The draft law has now to be discussed by a specialised (especialidade) committee in the matter and approved by the President of the Republic. The president will need to meet high expectations coming from both sides because, despite being assumedly Catholic, he previously promulgated the law on abortion and marriage between same-sex people.