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Topics In the News
 
Tenth Brazilian State Achieves Marriage Equality
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/06/13
Last updated on: 04/06/13
 
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Iguaçu Falls, Paraná's most popular tourist attraction.

As a result of a judicial decision of March 26, 2013, the Brazilian state of Paraná (South) has extended equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. Paraná thus becomes the tenth Brazilian state in which same-sex couples may marry in registry offices without requiring special permission from a judge. The ten (of 27) states that have achieved marriage equality in the world's fifth largest country comprise 49% of the nation's population.

Paraná, whose capital is Curitiba, is best known as a tourist attraction because of the Iguaçu Falls. It is bounded on the north by São Paulo, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Santa Catarina and the Misiones Province of Argentina, and on the west by Mato Grosso do Sul and the Republic of Paraguay. It has a population of more than 10,500,000.

In 2004, Brazil first recognized same-sex "stable unions" as similar to common-law marriages in terms of rights and obligations. This recognition was greatly expanded on May 4, 2011, when Brazil's highest court, on a 10-0 vote, with one abstention, ruled that partners in a "stable" same-sex union had the same legal rights as a heterosexual married couple. "Discrimination generates hatred," wrote Justice Carlos Ayres Britto.

The ruling meant that Brazilian same-sex couples are entitled to retirement, inheritance, and health benefits on the same basis as married couples, as well as other rights, including the right to adopt children.

In response to the landmark ruling, judges throughout the country began converting civil unions into full-fledged marriages, following an existing procedure for converting common-law marriages into legal marriages.

Thus, throughout Brazil, same-sex couples may petition a court to recognize their "stable unions" as marriages.

However, only in ten states, including Alagoas, Bahia, Brazilian Federal District, Piauí, São Paulo, Ceará, Mato Grosso do Sul, and now Paraná, may same-sex couples marry in registry offices without requiring judicial intervention.

Ironically, the state of Rio, from which the landmark judicial ruling of 2011 originated, is not yet one of the states where same-sex couples may marry in the same way opposite-sex couples marry.

Still, Brazil is far ahead of the United States in terms of recognizing the rights and obligations of same-sex couples.

 
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