Brazil’s Supreme Court Legalizes Civil Unions

Brazil’s federal supreme court ruled unanimously on Thursday that same-sex couples should be allowed to access civil unions as formal recognition of their partnerships, and while the court stopped short of explicitly granting marriage equality many advocates in the country believe that this ruling will be a stepping stone to achieving full marriage rights in the not-too-distant future.

From CNN:

The court voted 10-0 in favor of recognizing the unions. One justice abstained because he had spoken publicly in favor of same-sex unions when he was attorney general.

The court ruled that the same rights and rules that apply to “stable unions” of heterosexual couples will apply to same-sex couples, including the right to joint declaration of income tax, pension, inheritance and property sharing.

The ruling does not allow same-sex marriage, but gay rights activists hailed it as an important advance for same-sex couples. Previously, decisions related to same-sex unions were left for judges to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Cleber Vicente, project coordinator for the Rainbow Group in Rio de Janeiro, called the decision “a historic achievement,” the state-run Agencia Brasil reported.

“There is something to celebrate this result,” he said. “It is a struggle that stretches for over 15 years.”

The ruling was made in response to two separate lawsuits, one filed by the Rio de Janeiro state government in 2008 and one in 2009 filed by the Public Ministry, federal prosecutors that work independently from executive, legislative and judicial branches. Rio state governor Sergio Cabral filed his suit in order to grant partnership rights and benefits to all state employees. The Court’s ruling went one step further however, directly tackling issues of discrimination against same-sex couples.  

“Those who opt for a homosexual union cannot be treated less than equally as citizens,” Justice Camen Lucia is quoted as saying.

“No one should be deprived of rights on the basis of sexual orientation,” added Justice Ricardo Lewandowski.

While Argentina is currently the only Latin American country to have enacted same-sex marriage, several states including Uruguay have already legalized civil unions with adoption rights. A handful of jurisdictions including Uruguay are currently considering same-sex marriage.

A same-sex marriage bill was introduced into the Brazilian Legislature earlier this year.

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.


Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

federico bortoletto

Bene e forza Brasile.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L6 years ago

Viva Brazil! Now, I'm just waiting for the USA to follow suit with so many other countries in the world. Repeal DOMA and welcome to the reality of 2011, not 1811!

Tracey D.
Tracey D6 years ago

now we just need the rest of the world to wake up

Arielle Black-Foley

This is only a start but it's something worth celebrating! One step at a time!

Dan(iel) M.
Dan(iel) M6 years ago

Glad to hear the good news. Now lets have EQUALITY in this country, also.

J. C.
Jess Carson6 years ago

Good decision!

Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert6 years ago

A step in the right direction. Well done, Brazil - now end the discrimination that says some people can marry whereas others can only be granted a "civil union". Equality should mean equality - not that some are more equal than others!!

Ian F.
Ian Fletcher6 years ago

Parabems Brasil!

Marjaana V.
marjaana v6 years ago

well, that took me by surprise...