After Years Of Dawdling, Brazilian Senate OKs Civil-Unions Bill

Brazil’s Congress is finally catching up with the country’s courts: The human-rights committee in the South American country’s Senate approved a bill yesterday that would define civil unions as between two people, without specifying gender. It was last year that the judiciary ruled same-sex couples could enter into civil unions—the bill simply enshrines in the legal code what various jurisdictions have already been allowing. (Some state courts have allowed these unions to become full-fledged marriages.)

It’s an important step for the measure, which the AP says has been languishing in the legislature for 16 years. But the bill must still face other Senate committees and go to a full vote before the entire Congress.

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  • Kayo

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this took a couple of decades to take effect. The court system in Brazil is extremely slow and bureaucratic, one of the reasons the country doesn’t work.

  • Andrew

    Kayo, It is the court system that extended civil unions to same-sex
    couples in May 2011. The Supreme Court of Brasil voted unanimously (with one abstention)
    to extend civil unions, which had already been an option for heterosexual couples, to gay couples. Soon after same sex couples began getting civil unions, as I and my partner did.
    The senate would be creating policy that codifies what is already happening. BTW, the United States has had DOMA on the books since 1996 and the senate has avoided voting on the Uniting American Families Act for about 15 years (the UAFA would allow US citizens to petion for a green card for their foreign born same sex partner). Brasil, even prior to extending civil unions to gay couples, allowed for this as well as filing joint taxes, allowing for inheritance rights, and receiving spousal pensions in the event of death. So, please not criticize Brasil when it comes to LGBT rights…for she is light years ahead of the United States.

    I have been living here for almost 3 years and the economy is booming and the unemployment rate is about 5.2%. While there are still problems this country is moving forward, while so many others seem to be regressing.

  • Me

    Brasil is not light years ahead of the USA with LGBT rights. The Supreme Court has voted unanimously to extend rights to same-sex partners but the legislators and Dilma continue to do nothing. Dilma even pulled back on the homophobia kits because of her fear of conservatives. Crimes against LGBT individuals continue to escalate. In the USA gay and lesbians are featured in countless TV programs and movies. However, in Brasil gays and lesbians are not often featured on TV. Several states in the USA permit FULL marriage equality, but not one state in Brasil offers this by law. Only in some states are judges allowing conversions from stable unions to marriage IF you see the judge personally. In the USA there is not immigration rights for same-sex partners. However, the current administration has stopped deporting same-sex partners who are at risk of being deported.

    Both the USA and Brasil must progress further. There is a long way to go. Homophobia in Brasil is very strong, even in Rio. And, homophobia exists in the USA also. One day at a time and both countries will progress. Be reminded that Argentina is ahead of both the USA and Brasil in LGBT marriage rights for the entire country and now for tourists also.

  • Me

    Also, the economy in Brasil is NOT booming. The GDP will be at about 3% this coming year. It is slowing drastically and inflation is at about 5%. Brasil’s economy was booming 2 or 3 years ago but is slowing down drastically now because of inflation, the Real valuation and because China and other countries are also slowing.

  • Good Guy

    @Andrew: well said Andrew

  • Paulo

    Andrew that’s BS that here in Brasil they are light years ahead of the United States when it comes to LGBT rights. I have noticed how here in Brasil there is A LOT of homophobia and biphobia, and even transphobia and hate crime against LGBT people.

  • Andrew

    By “Brasil” I mean the government. I stand by my assertion that Brasil is light years ahead of the USA. I am living here…because my partner was allowed to petition a green card for me. This has been possible for 10 years. Bi-national same sex oouples in the USA are often torn apart, need to visa surf at high expense, or engage in illegal “sham marriages”. This is not the case in Brasil. Gay couples in Brasil are able to file taxes jointly, adopt children together, and inherit from one another if they have a civil union. Again, not the case in the USA. When it comes to homophobia and hate crimes, this seems to be worsening in Brasil in recent years (seemingly correlated to the rise of Evangelism), however it is still awful in the USA (ie. NOM, AFA, OMM).

    As for the economy, there does seem to be a cooling off, but clearly Brasil’s economy is on a trajectory of continued growth and expansion.

    I do not mean to say that there is still not a lot of work to do to fight homofobia worldwide. But as an American in a bi-national relationship that moved to Brasil where he got a permanent spousal visa in 3 months, I have a unique perspective.

    By the way, the only times in my life I experienced anti-gay harrassment was in San Francisco and New York City-never in Brasil.

  • FelixWood

    But my understanding of the STF is that their decisions do not set precedent, so while the couple did win the right to enter into a civil union, it would mean without the appropriate legislation, each same sex couple wishing to enter into a civil union would have to take their individual case to the STF.

    Watching the evangelists shit themselves over this measure in Congress is going to be hilarious.

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