Portugal’s parliament has rejected a bill that would have legalised same sex marriage in that country.

The bill, which was proposed by small Green and left-wing parties, was overwhelmingly rejected by the Socialist and Social Democratic parties.

Last month, the country’s Prime Minister José Sócrates said: “Homosexual marriage is not on the political agenda.”

The bill received only 28 out of 230 votes in favour of its adoption in the predominantly Catholic county’s parliament.

“A change of this depth and complexity should be made only after a considered discussion and after broad support has built up for it in Portuguese society, inside and outside political parties, so that a clear and unequivocal political undertaking can be given,” said the ruling Socialist party in a statement.

While the Portuguese civil code currently bans same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions – which grant gay couples most of the same benefits accorded to heterosexual married couples – have been legal since 2001.

In Europe, only Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain grant their citizens full same-sex marriage rights.

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