Portugal: Fight for Free Abortion and Gay Marriage


Photo Francisco Leong : AFP

Fight for free abortion and gay marriage in Portugal by Lars Torstensson

The struggle for the right to free abortion started after the dictatorship had been overthrown in 1974. After the election of 1995, a majority of MP:s voted in fabour of legalization. But the Social Democratic Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, listened to the protests from the Catholic Church, and announced a referendum. The church mobilized, and managed to win the referendum by on percent.

But after several trials against doctors and nurses who had helped pregnant women to get abortion, a new referendum was announced in 2005. It was won by the abortion advocators by around 60 percent! Now, Portugal has almost the same abortion rights as most European countries.

This spring, Portugal enters an election movement – the election will take place in the autumn – and gay marriage will be a big issue. The Catholic Church mobilises again. But no referendum will be arranged. “The Spanish experience shows that it will quickly become an undramatic question, once the decision has been taken,” says Pedro Silva Pereira, minister of coordination in the Portuguese government.

Duarte Vilar, who leads an organization for family planning, says: “it takes patience and knowledge, not alarm campaigns and negative campaigns, to be able to win against the Catholic Church.”

Henrik Brors reports this in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter yesterday.

The pictures of the article show four gay and lesbian activists, “José” and “Manuel” and “Ana” and “Maria”, acting a wedding ceremoni outside the Lissabon Parliament, in order to make MP:s vote yes to such weddings.


From 13 o’clock today, you can chat with Duarte Vilar about women’s rights and sexual equality here:

Lars Torstensson


  1. SteveMD2

    Europe is so advanced. Virtually every west European country except italy and greece recognize gay unions legally. Some with marriage, some with marriage by name Civil Unions, and some with Reg. Partnerships.

    Oh that we could have that here in the USA. And it may be coming. Despite setbacks, this year alone, 5 more states now have gay marriage, adding to the Massachusetts since 2004 success.

    There will be setbacks, like prop 8 in CA. But by respecting religious people – especially those in the middle, who want to do the right thing but struggle with the “marriage” term, we will get there.

    We are past the tipping point. And when enough good religious people join in with the true message of Jesus, and his love for ALL of God’s creation, the homophobic churches will have a choice- get modern, or become museums of mankinds inhumanity to some of mankind and womankind.

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