The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil [official website, in Portugese] unanimously recognized legal rights [press release, in Portugese] for partners in same-sex civil unions [JURIST news archive] on Thursday. Through the ruling, gay couples in "stable relationships" now have rights to community property, alimony, health insurance and tax benefits, adoption, and inheritance rights. The court disregarded a portion of the civil code, instead deferring to Article 3, Clause IV of the Federal Constitution [full text, in Portugese], which provides that the state should "promote the good of everyone, without distinction of origin, race, sex, color, age and other forms of discrimination." The court upheld the distinction between civil unions and marriage. Lawmaker Jean Wyllys [official website, in Portugese] plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to legalize same-sex marriage [Correio Braziliense report, in Portugese] as soon as he obtains the necessary number of signatures. Brazil becomes the largest country to legalize unions for same-sex couples, and the third South American nation, after Uruguay and Argentina [JURIST report].
Foreign and domestic courts and legislators are increasingly addressing the issue of gay marriage. Last month, Hungary added a prohibition against gay marriage [JURIST report] to its Constitution. France upheld a same-sex marriage ban [JURIST report] in January. In the US, judges in Wisconsin, California and Texas [JURIST reports] confronted the issue last year. Governments in Mexico, Kenya, Portugal and Germany [JURIST reports] are also addressing the issue.