Brazil's supreme court recognizes gay partnerships

BRASILIA Thu May 5, 2011 8:44pm EDT

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's Federal Supreme Court on Thursday legally recognized homosexual partnerships in a landmark case for gay rights in a country with the world's largest population of Roman Catholics.

Justices at the STF, as the country's top court is known, voted 10 to zero in favor of gay partnerships, setting a legal precedent in Latin America's largest country. One justice, Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli, refrained from voting, saying he had dealt previously with related cases.

The decision grants gay couples most of the rights enjoyed by heterosexual partners, including pension benefits, inheritance and, some lawyers say, possibly the right to adopt children. Lower courts had ruled both in favor of and against partnerships, which are not governed by a specific law.

"The freedom to pursue one's own sexuality is part of an individual's freedom of expression," said Justice Carlos Ayres Britto, the author of the ruling.

The ruling makes Brazil the second South American nation after Argentina to allow gay partnerships. The majority of judges argued that the Constitution did not explicitly rule out gay partnerships and that these were an expression of the right to privacy and equality before the law.

Gay activists celebrated the decision, saying the ruling shows the state is willing to defend the rights of citizens regardless of their sexual and race condition.

"The degree of civilization of a country can be measured by the way people in a nation treat their homosexual community," newspaper O Globo's website cited Claudio Nascimento, head of Rio de Janeiro state's Gay, Lesbian and Transsexuals Committee, as saying. "It's a historic day for Brazil."

Brazil's Roman Catholic Church had argued against the decision, saying the only union the Constitution referred to was that between a man and a woman.

"Plurality has its limits," Hugo Jose de Oliveira, a lawyer representing the Brazilian National Bishops Conference, or CNBB, told the court. Church leaders said they would not budge from their position as a result of ruling.

About 140 million of Brazil's 190 million population in 2008 were Roman Catholic.

The case was brought to the court by the government of Rio de Janeiro state and by federal public prosecutors.

Most major cities in Brazil have an active and open gay community, and Sao Paulo every year hosts the world's largest gay parade, with about 3 million people attending.

Despite that, the country has struggled with recent episodes of violence against the gay community -- including harassment and beatings at central points in Sao Paulo. In rural areas and even in the nation's capital, Brasilia, gays are often ridiculed and harassed.

(Reporting by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Todd Eastham)

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Comments (3)
SteveMD2 wrote:
Almost every where in the western world, except the USA, recognition of gay peoples a legal couples entitled to the same or similar benefits that hetero married couples receive, is becoming a fact.

Isn’t it horrible that as an American str8 family man, I have to look our gay friends in the eye, and say “sorry, welcome to a nation where the christian taliban (of slavery , the KKK and segregation, rule

Along with the church best described by a student in our class as the Godfather of Pedophila. Where the Vatican hid for decades / centuries vicious molestation of children they were sworn to protect.

And even took known offending priests not to the police in chains, but instead moved them to new locations where the molesters could continue their vile crimes.

And to top it off, ;the german born pope in 2009 UNexcommunicated Bishop Robinson, a church of englland bishop, kicked out for denying the holocaust.

Its time that the good Catholic people, true to Jesus commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself, cut off the money flow to the church. Only near bankruptcy can possibly create a change,where the good leaders can drive out and excommunicate many of the cardinals and others who are responsible for so many crimes, www.nobeliefs.comn/nazis.htm

May 05, 2011 12:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SteveMD2 wrote:
So the church wont budge on its postition. Let it commit suicide. The ghosts of Hitlers 55 million victims, including half of the worlds Jews, will celebrate.

Hitler was born an baptised catholic in very catholic Austria in 1888. As the worst murderer in the history of mankind, one would think that dead or alive, the church would have EXcommunicated him but it hasn’t

Probably because the church is responsible for the hatred of the Jews, Jesus own people, because they refused to convert. A hatred hitler leveraged to power.

May 05, 2011 12:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
47frank wrote:
colombia and uruguay have also civil unions for gay couples. it’s surprising reuters didn’t know that!!

May 06, 2011 7:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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