Marriage for Spanish gays on statute books next year, minister says

June 28, 2004

MADRID — Marriage between homosexuals could be on the statute books by the beginning of next year, Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar said in an interview published Sunday.

At the same time, Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he was "clearly favorable" to the marriage of homosexual couples.

The government's social proposals – including the relaxation of the abortion law, the ending of compulsory religious education in public schools and allowing homosexuals to marry – have been sharply criticized by the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Spain and by Pope John Paul II.

Zapatero told the Barcelona daily La Vanguardia that people had a right to personal liberty, and that homosexual marriage was consistent with a pluralistic and open idea of the family.

"To ignore this reality, would be to ignore the right of many people to be happy," he said.

Lopez Aguilar told the daily La Razon that the government would introduce legislation in September aimed at changing the civil code to allow homosexual marriage early in 2005.

He said society is ready for such a change, and added that he had met the Catholic hierarchy and told them that while the government respected the church, it had commitments towards "a pluralistic society."

Both Zapatero and Lopez Aguilar said they were pushing ahead with legislation aimed at preventing and punishing crimes against woman, a pressing social concern in Spain, where 68 women were murdered by their partners last year and hundreds attacked.

Zapatero said he wanted Spain to take the lead in abolishing such practices.

Spanish homosexuals planned a major gay pride parade next Saturday to celebrate a "historic" opportunity brought about by the arrival of the Socialists to power in March. – AFP

Related stories
Spain stands firm on gay marriage plans despite Vatican [22/06/2004]



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