Ruling: Brazilian states must register same-sex civil unions as marriages


BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s National Council of Justice on Tuesday said that notary publics throughout the country must register same-sex civil unions as marriages if the couple requests it.

The council that oversees the country’s judiciary voted 14-1 to support a resolution stating that notary publics cannot refuse to marry gay couples or convert a same-sex civil union into a marriage.

The council based its decision on a 2011 Supreme Court ruling that recognized same-sex civil unions.

The court said at the time that gay couples are entitled to same legal rights as heterosexual pairs when it comes to alimony, retirement benefits of a partner who dies and inheritances, among other issues. The ruling allowed same-sex couples who are joined together in “stable union” to petition judges to convert their union into a marriage.

The two-step process to being married can be performed across Brazil, but since then, state judges in 14 of Brazil’s 27 states have ordered an end to the process, converting the unions into fully recognized marriages.

For several years, lawmakers have been trying to approve a bill legalizing gay marriage across the nation.

Gay rights movements cheered the council’s decision.

“It is a major step that will ensure equality among heterosexual and homosexual couples,” Carlos Magno Fonseca, president of the Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association told reporters.

Last year, 1,277 same sex couples registered such civil unions with notary publics.

Under Tuesday’s ruling, Brazil would become the 15th country in the world to allow same-sex marriage nationally, although the decision could still be appealed to the country’s Supreme Court.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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