Gay and lesbian couples in Portugal will continue to be banned from getting married after the main government and opposition parties joined forces.

The ruling Socialist party’s opposition to gay marriages is well-known, but small Green and leftist political parties had hoped to draw attention to the issue by putting a proposal before parliament.

It was overwhelmingly defeated, with the centre-right opposition voting it down alongside the government.

30 gays protested by staging marriage ceremonies outside.

“I am here because there are citizens who are full citizens in their duties but not citizens in their rights and that is a very serious mistake in a democracy,” one of the women who got “married” told Reuters.

The parliamentary measure was assured of defeat last month when Prime Minister José Sócrates declared:

“Homosexual unions are not on the political agenda.

“It is not in the Government’s programme and the Socialists will not being instructed by other parties.”

Gay and lesbians are entitled to full civil marriage rights across the border in Spain, thanks to the Socialist party.

Portugal’s 1975 constitution bans sexual discrimination and gay activists have argued that two women have the same right to marry as a man and a woman. Portugal’s civil code, however, bans same-sex marriages.