Brazil: The right to become a family

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In the last few weeks, same-sex marriage has been making headlines around the globe. France, the United States, and Uruguay are among those at the forefront of the discussion. 

Meanwhile, Brazil still walks slowly towards equality. In May 2011, the Supreme Court recognized same-sex common law marriage as a first step in the pursuit for equal rights. Even though the initiative has opened space for the conversion from common law to civil marriage, the Supreme Court has no power to create federal laws, which means that the decision to marry a same-sex couple is laid in the hands of the judge of each register’s office. In cases where the application is denied, the couple needs to appeal the decision of the Justice. 

Which means: if you were lucky enough to apply in an open-minded office, you could get married; if you were not, you should prepare to face a really big headache. Some couples had to wait over a year to convert the common-law marriage to a civil one. Not to mention the list of rights that is not extended to the common-law union. 

Almost one year has passed, and fortunately a lot has changed. Unfortunately, not exactly as it should have. Nowadays, the LGBT community can reach for the right to get married, but only in some specific states, such as São Paulo, Paraná and Bahia. In those places, all same-sex couples need to do is apply in any registration’s office and wait to set the “big day.” Everything will be done exactly the same way as with heterosexual couples.

Although we have achieved some advancement regarding this issue, the recognition of gay marriage is not considered a federal law. This fact can cause a mess when navigating the differences from one state to another, which actually means that the possibility to get married or not depends on where you live, even though we are all under the same government and territory.

The goal now is to achieve a federal law that legalizes same-sex marriages throughout the country. Only in that way would LGBT couples be able to fully enjoy their rights and be recognized (and respected) as a true family in the eyes the law and society.

Here, in Brazil, we are going through what I like to believe is a great moment for change, even with the resistance of the opponents who are primarily conservative Christians. We are at the moment of the discussions, the time of changing minds. Today, there are a lot more people coming out of the closet than there were ten years ago. That gives us the opportunity to show our faces to those who believe we are less important and show them we are, in fact, human beings just like themselves, only with the tiny difference of our sexual orientation or gender association. 

We expect that the recent changes in more developed countries, and the fact that a lot of other places around the globe already recognize marriage equality, can be a great influence to our government, giving our “high command” the courage to take bigger steps into the future of our society.

Libertè, Égalité, Fraternité.

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