All but one member of the Socialist Party and other center-left parties that have a majority in the Portuguese Parliament voted for the measure. Nineteen members of the center-right Social Democratic Party also backed the bill.
Advocates began their campaign in support of adoption rights for same-sex couples in the predominantly Roman Catholic country in 2001.
Gays and lesbians began to legally marry in Portugal in 2010. The law that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples contains a provision that prohibits them from adopting children.
A 2001 law that allowed same-sex couples to enter into what Paulo Côrte-Real of ILGA-Portugal, a Portuguese advocacy group, described to the Washington Blade as “de facto unions” contained a similar provision. Gays and lesbians received second-parent adoption rights in 2013.
“This is a mark not only in LGBT rights, but also human rights,” Paula Antunes, a Portuguese LGBT rights advocate, told the Blade after the vote. “Finally we will be able to tell our children that they can have their families recognized as real and equal by the state.”
Same-sex couples in neighboring Spain received marriage and adoption rights in 2005.
Antunes referenced former Spanish Prime Minister José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, who was in office at the time, as she discussed Friday’s vote.
“We are not legislating to distant and strange people,” said Rodríguez, as Antunes noted to the Blade. “We are expanding happiness opportunities for our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends and our families and at the same time, we are building a better country. For a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.”
Religious groups criticized the vote.
“Adoption should only be done by couples, and a couple is a man and a woman,” said Manuel Barbosa of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, according to Diário de Noticias, a Portuguese newspaper.
The Parliament on Nov. 27 is expected to consider a measure that would allow lesbian couples to conceive children through artificial insemination.