A judge has ruled that marriage license offices cannot refuse to grant licenses to same-sex couples, effectively affirming the legality of gay marriage in Brazil.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa, who is also the head of the National Council of Justice (NCJ), which oversees Brazil’s legal system, said that the government did not need to wait for a marriage equality bill to be passed as same-sex couples already had the right to marry.

He affirmed a 2011 Supreme Court decision that ruled that the constitution guarantees gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

“Are we going to require the approval of a new law by congress to put into effect the ruling that already has been made by the Supreme Court? That would make no sense,” he was quoted as saying by the G1 news website.

Opponents of marriage equality in Brazil said that they will appeal the NCJ’s decision in the Supreme Court and some have called for a national referendum on the issue.

The 2011 ruling ordered all civil registers in the country to perform same-sex marriages and to convert any existing civil unions into marriages if those couples wished to do so.

The ruling, however, has not been applied consistently across Brazil, the country with the most Roman Catholics in the world.

The latest development is unlikely to impress Pope Francis, who is set to visit the country in two months time.

Brazil is not the only country in Latin America where gay marriage is legal.

Last month, Uruguay passed a same-sex marriage law that will come into effect in August, while Argentina approved marriage equality in 2010. Same-sex marriage became legal in Mexico City in the same year.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend