In a landmark ruling, Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court on Thursday legalised the recognition of same-sex partnerships in the predominantly catholic country.
Ten out of the 11 judges voted in favour of giving legal status to same-sex partnerships, with one judge recusing himself.
The ruling means that same-sex couples registered as civil partners will have many of the benefits associated with marriage, including pension and income tax benefits and inheritance and property rights.
The judgement may also mean that gay and lesbian couples could be allowed to adopt children.
“The fact that the Constitution deals with the union between man and woman does not negate unions between persons of the same sex,” said former Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes in the ruling.
The ruling is a major defeat for the Roman Catholic Church which has bitterly opposed any recognition of same-sex couples and families in Brazil.
The country becomes the second South American nation after Argentina to legalise same-sex unions.