Brazil Moves Toward More Protections for Gay Couples
Brazil appears to be heading toward greater recognition of same-sex families, with the federal government indicating that it is favorable to granting civil unions that would provide many of the protections that marriage offers mixed-gender couples.
A blog at alterdestiny.com reported that Paulo Vanucchi, the country’s Minister of Human Rights, stated on Mar. 3 that same-sex families should enjoy the same rights and protections as heterosexual partners can access via marriage.
Vanucchi reportedly based his opinion on Brazil’s Constitution, adopted in 1988, which forbids any discriminatory treatment of the country’s citizens.
Nothing in Brazilian law forbids recognition of same-sex families, apart from a legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Other provisions for legal recognition of same-sex relationships already exist, including common law marriage and "de facto partnerships;" those labels are applied to what are legally termed "stable relationships," though legally that term is somewhat vague.
However, same-sex couples already are granted immigration and inheritance rights in Brazil, including the right to inherit a deceased partner’s social security benefits and pension. Tax provisions for same-sex couples in stable relationships also already exist.
In terms of adoption rights, the courts already seem to be inclined to grant custody to same-sex partners of biological parents in certain circumstances. The alterdestiny article cited the case of a singer, Cássia Eller, whose child from a heterosexual union was allowed by a court to remain with Eller’s lesbian partner after the singer’s sudden death. (The child’s father had also died.)
The same alterdestiny story also reported that on the state level, some Brazilian gays and lesbians may soon have reason to feel that their families have more protection.
Sérgio Cabral Filho, governor of the Brazilian state Rio de Janeiro, said on Mar. 3 that gays and lesbians employed by the state should have the same right to extend their health care and other benefits to their life partners, reported alterdestiny.
Again, Cabral cited the country’s 1988 Constitution and its provisions that no one should be discriminated against.
Though the alterdestiny article speculates that any actual attempt to pass laws granting more equitable protections for LGBT families would probably serve as a rallying point for conservative Catholics in the country, for the time being, the story noted, the proposals on the city and federal levels have not generated controversy.
Currently, civil unions in Brazil are only granted in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
By contrast, in the United States, there is no comprehensive approach to same-sex families nationwide, with a patchwork of legal provisions having been created by various states settling on various levels of family equality for LGBT citizens. Some states outlaw any form of legal recognition for non-heterosexual unions, while others offer domestic partnerships or civil unions; only one state, Massachusetts, offers full marriage equality.