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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 17:40 GMT
Portugal blocks lesbian marriage
Helena Paixao (left) and Teresa Pires (right)
Helena Paixao (l) and Teresa Pires have lived together three years
A lesbian couple say they will fight a decision by Portuguese officials not to allow their request to get married.

The couple had expected the bid to be rejected as Portuguese law only allows marriage between a man and a women.

But Helena Paixao, 35, and Teresa Pires, 28, who have lived together for three years, say they will appeal and take the case to court if necessary.

Neighbouring Spain legalised gay marriages last year, despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.

Portugal has a law that allows gay couples certain legal, tax and property rights.

Lawyers for Ms Paixao and Ms Pires say they could challenge the marriage law on the grounds that the country's constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Socialist government has said that it does not intend to change the law.

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