Portugal has become the sixth European country to allow same-sex couples to marry. It follows the president’s ratification of a Parliamentary Bill passed in January.
But while the conservative head of state made it clear he did not approve of the move, President Anibal Cavaco Silva said he was putting aside personal convictions.
“I feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us.”
Portugal is nearly 90 per cent Catholic, but less than one-fifth of the population claims to practice their faith. None-the-less the bill had to overcome strong resistance from religious groups and conservative lawmakers.
Elsewhere in Europe gay marriage is permitted in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway.