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Portugal expands adoption rights for same-sex couples

Portugal's Parliament [official website] voted Friday to approve a law allowing same-sex married couples to adopt their partners' children. The Parliament also voted on Friday to reject the Left Bloc and Green Party's [official websites, Portuguese] proposal to grant gay couples the same adoption rights as heterosexuals. The bill approved by Parliament is intended to primarily serve the children in the event that their biological parent dies or falls ill. It was passed by only five votes, while 9 Parliament members declined a vote and 28 did not appear. The bill must still be signed into law by President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who in 2010 legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] but has expressed disapproval of same-sex adoption.

Adoption rights of same-sex couples [JURIST news archive] have created controversy in several courts worldwide. In February, Puerto Rico's Supreme Court upheld a law banning same-sex couples from adopting children. Earlier that week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a woman in a same-sex relationship could adopt her partner's biological child [JURIST report]. Also in February, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that same-sex couples in a civil union can legally adopt [JURIST report] the non-biological children of their partners. Similarly, the Northern Ireland High Court [official website] held [JURIST report] in October that a law permitting adoption only by heterosexual married couples or single individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, is unlawful. Also in October, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals [official website] upheld a law limiting marriage as a union between and one man and one woman. That ruling effectively barred a woman from adopting her female partner's child [JURIST report].

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