Portugal is among the first 10 countries in the world to allow same-sex marriage. The first same-sex marriages took place in the Netherlands on April 1, 2001. The countries that followed were Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina.
Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva approved the law authorizing same-sex marriages on May 17, 2010, making Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex unions.
In Portugal the same-sex marriage law was opposed by conservatives and the Catholic Church but Portugal’s conservative Catholic president made the announcement three days after Pope Benedict XVI left Portugal, followig an official visit to the country to worship at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.
Portugal lifted a prohibition on homosexuality in the early 1980s. In 2001, it passed a law allowing “civil unions” between same-sex couples, which granted couples certain legal, tax and property rights but did not allow couples to take a partner’s name, nor inherit his/her assets or state pensions.