BRAZIL: Civil Unions Bill Nears Passage

Brazil’s national legislature yesterday took another step towards legalizing civil unions nationwide, a move seen as putting into written law what some courts have already allowed.

The country’s human rights committee yesterday approved a measure to change the law regarding civil unions – the new bill classes a ‘union’ as a contract between two people in a ‘continuous and long-lasting’ relationship, established with the aim of starting a family, regardless of gender. This bill, sponsored by Senator Marta Suplicy, moves the law forward in line with what is already happening in the country. Since May 2011, the Supreme Court has been approving civil unions for same-sex couples, and state courts have since allowed these to become fully-fledged marriages. Sen. Suplicy said: “All we have done is added something to civil law that the Supreme Court has already done.”

The bill faces several other steps before final passage.