Lisbon (AFP) - Conservative Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva vetoed on Monday a bill giving adoption rights to gay couples in one of his last political moves before newly-elected Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa takes the office.
The law allowing gay couples to adopt passed through parliament on December 18, and was one of socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa's campaign promises.
"It is important that such a big change on a sensitive social topic is not entered into force without a broad public debate," Cavaco Silva said in a statement.
The 76-year-old, who served two terms as president, will be replaced on March 9 by centre-right TV pundit Rebelo de Sousa, who was elected on Sunday in the first round of presidential polls.
The outgoing leader asked deputies to consider "the child's best interest" rather than equality "between different and same-sex couples".
The ruling Socialist Party, which came to power after a leftist alliance toppled the conservative government in November, announced their intention to vote on the law again in an attempt to override the presidential veto -- which is possible with an absolute majority vote in parliament.
Adoption is open to all individuals in Portugal, but the law allowing gay marriage which was passed in February 2010 explicitly excludes the right to adopt.
Cavaco Silva also vetoed on Monday a series of amendments to Portugal's abortion laws eliminating fees introduced in July, a move the Socialist Party said it will also attempt to override.