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2018

November 2018: Euthanasia bills not approved
Four projects of law on euthanasia – medical assistance in dying, presented to the Portuguese parliament in May 2018, have not been approved. One of (...)

  • November 2018: Euthanasia bills not approved

Four projects of law on euthanasia – medical assistance in dying, presented to the Portuguese parliament in May 2018, have not been approved. One of them, Project of Law 832/XIII/3.ª, from the Portuguese Socialist Party, failed approval by five votes (for: 110; against: 115; abstention: 4). This project of law intended, in particular, to “modify the 47th amendment to the Penal Code regulating the special circumstances for the practice of non-criminal euthanasia”. The religious communities legally recognized in Portugal have fought these proposals very actively. In addition to many public discussions and demonstrations, they presented for the first time a joint document against medical assistance in dying - Declaration of the Interreligious Religions-Health Working Group. However, despite the defeat, left-wing parties (and in particular, those who came forward with bills on euthanasia) want to re-discuss this issue, and possibly vote, during the next legislature (2019-2023).

  • February 2018: Euthanasia

Since 2015, Portuguese civil society and political parties have been discussing the issue of euthanasia – medical assistance in dying. Recently, a project of law has raised this issue once more (see Biolaw and the intimate, euthanasia). Project 773/XIII/3.ª – “Defines and regulates the conditions in which the anticipation of death, by decision of the person with final injury or incurable and fatal disease, and which is in during and unbearable suffering, is not punishable” (February 2018). This project of law was presented by Bloco de Esquerda (a Portuguese left-wing political party); it declares that the request for anticipation of death is the “free, serious and enlightened will of a person with final injury or incurable and fatal disease and in lasting and unbearable suffering”.

Whether euthanasia will be subject to a referendum or to the ordinary legislative process is still under discussion today.

  • February 2018: Right to gender self-determination

Project of law 242/XIII– “Recognizes the right to gender self-determination” (May 2017). This project of law, presented by Bloco de Esquerda (a Portuguese left-wing political party) recognizes the right to gender self-determination, namely of transsexual individuals, from the age of sixteen. This bill intends to eliminate the “abusive and threatening requirements” that offend “human dignity” in today’s procedure for the legal recognition of gender.

D 20 December 2018    AJorge Botelho Moniz

2016

April 2016: Debate on euthanasia
On the 26th of April, a petition entitled “For the right to die with dignity” was presented to the Portuguese Parliament. The petition’s intent is to legalize (...)

  • April 2016: Debate on euthanasia

On the 26th of April, a petition entitled “For the right to die with dignity” was presented to the Portuguese Parliament. The petition’s intent is to legalize euthanasia in Portugal. It has collected by now more than eight thousand signatures. This subject is now to be discussed in the parliament agenda. A left-wing party (Bloco de Esquerda) has already stated its intention of presenting a draft law on the legalization of euthanasia before the end of the current legislature.

See: Divisão de Informação Legislativa e Parlamentar – DILP, Eutanásia e Suicídio Assistido. Legislação Comparada, avril 2016.

D 19 May 2016    AHelena Vilaça

2015

November 2015: Adoption for same-sex couples
The recently elected Portuguese parliament has approved a new legislation that will make adoption possible for same-sex couples. All left-leaning (...)

  • November 2015: Adoption for same-sex couples

The recently elected Portuguese parliament has approved a new legislation that will make adoption possible for same-sex couples. All left-leaning deputies, and 19 deputies from the center-right Social Democratic Party, backed this legislation. The previous law article that stated who was entitled to adopt was revised, and the gender specification was removed. The new law also extends access to assisted reproduction methods to same-sex couples.

The new parliament, now with a left-wing majority, has also revoked the previous amendments to the abortion law that required women to pay a fee, get psychological and social counselling as well as advice on family planning before terminating a pregnancy.

In 2013, the parliament had already legalized second-parent adoption for married same-sex couples who already had a child.

Adoption by same-sex couples remains a controversial issue in Portugal, a country where the Catholic Church still has a great impact.

Artigo 1979:
Quem pode adotar
1 — Podem adotar duas pessoas casadas há mais de quatro anos e não separadas judicialmente de pessoas e bens ou de facto, se ambas tiverem mais de 25 anos.
(Who can adopt
1 – Two people married for over four years, and who are not separated, neither legally, nor of property, nor in fact, are allowed to adopt if they both are more than 25 years old).

D 7 December 2015    AHelena Vilaça

2013

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 (...)

  • 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.

D 19 June 2013    AMaria João Oliveira

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