A Brazilian judge on Monday handed down a ruling allowing a gay couple in a civil union to officially convert their partnership to a marriage.
Sao Paulo state Judge Fernando Henrique Pinto reportedly said that May’s supreme court ruling determining that same-sex couples should be allowed the right to access civil unions, teamed with provisions in Brazil’s constitution suggesting clear guidance on how a civil union can be converted into a marriage, as well as Brazil’s commitments to nondiscrimination under International law, all added up to a right to marriage.
From The Washington Post:
A court statement said Pinto made the decision based on the top court’s ruling on civil unions and on Brazil’s constitution, which outlines how a civil union can be converted into a legal marriage.
Benjamin Polastri, a spokesman with the Sao Paulo state Attorney General’s Office, said it was not immediately clear if the ruling set a strong national precedent. Polastri also said the just-approved gay marriage was the first for South America’s biggest nation.
Jose Luiz Bednarski, a lawyer for the Sao Paulo state attorney general, said in an opinion presented to Pinto that the marriage was legal.
“The federal constitution establishes as a fundamental objective of the Federal Republic of Brazil to promote the good of everyone without bias of gender or any other form of discrimination,” Bednarski wrote. “This certainly includes the choice or sexual orientation of a person.”
While court documents do not name the gay couple in this case other than by their initials, the press has managed to track them down, and they are said to be delighted not just for themselves but for what this could mean for all same-sex couples:
The couple, Luiz Andre Moresi and Sergio Kauffman Sousa, who registered their civil union on May 17, requested the conversion at a state court in the city of Jacarei, 85 km northeast of Sao Paulo.
They have decided to share their surnames.
“We are now an officially recognized couple. We are very happy,” Sousa said.
The official marriage certificate will be handed out on Tuesday, International Gay Pride Day.
While the full scope of this ruling is yet to be determined it would appear to offer same-sex couples a means by which they might legally marry and have such unions recognized by the state, though an appeal of this decision, whether by the Attorney General or by defendant intervenors, seems likely. The couple have indicated they are prepared to take their fight all the way to the nation’s supreme court if necessary.
This comes at a time of apparent hostility towards LGBT citizens in Brazil where over the past year anti-gay hate crimes have seen a dramatic increase.
While Argentina is currently the only Latin American country to have enacted same-sex marriage (Mexico City did beat them to it as the first jurisdiction however), several states including Uruguay have already legalized civil unions with adoption rights. A handful of jurisdictions including Uruguay are currently considering same-sex marriage.