Brazil: Same Sex Partnership Bill Advances in Parliament

A bill presented on 26 October 1995 by Brazilian Federal Deputy Marta Suplicy (Workers Party), which proposes the legalization of the Contract of Civil Union between same-sex couples, has been placed in a special parliamentary commission. This development follows a period of extensive media coverage of the case of David Harrad, the British partner of Brazilian gay activist Toni Reis. Harrad was recently forced to leave the country after the expiration of his visa. He and Reis have lived together for the past six years, four of which have been in Brazil. Harrad succeeded in securing a tourist visa to return to Brazil, and has now announced that he will soon marry Reis's mother in order to stay in the country.

The bill being considered by Parliament covers the registration of same- sex partnerships, including rights of inheritance, social security benefits and pensions, rights of dependents of civil servants and naturalization of foreigners living with Brazilian citizens. Legislation protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is already in place in large cities such as S†o Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, and the issue of same-sex partnerships has already received the support of several trade union leaders. However, there is a powerful "evangelical block" of 28 Deputies and 5 Senators that is strongly opposed to any initiatives for gay and lesbian rights, including the Contract of Civil Union bill.

The report produced by the special commission will likely be very influential among members of Parliament, and Grupo Dignidade is requesting that letters be sent to the author of the report, Roberto Jefferson, emphasizing the following points:

  1. Legalization of the Contract for Civil Union fulfills the government's obligations under Brazilian Constitution which guarantees that all Brazilian citizens are "equal under the law without discrimination of any nature."
  2. Laws protecting the rights of sexual minorities contribute to the advancement of the democratic state. Legislation recognizing same-sex partnerships is already in place in several countries.
  3. This is a crucial bill to help ensure full civil rights for excluded social minorities.

Send letters to:

Deputado Federal
Roberto Jefferson
Gabinete 208
Camara dos Deputados
70160-900 Brasilia - DF
Fax: +55-61-318 2208
Sr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Exmo. Presidente da Republica
Palacio do Planalto
Praca dos Tres Poderes
70150-900 Brasilia - DF
Fax: +55-61-226 7566