Brazil Army must recognize same-sex civil union

SAO PAULO (AP) — A court in the northeastern state of Pernambuco has ordered Brazil’s Army for the first time to recognize a same-sex civil union between a sergeant and his companion .

Judge Elio Siqueira said in his ruling that the couple is entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples in terms of things such as alimony and retirement benefits because the two have been in a stable civil union for three years.

The sergeant’s attorney, Laurecilia de Sa Ferraz, said Friday it was “the first time a court ordered the Army to recognize a same-sex union of one its officers.” She said the army has 30 days to appeal the ruling “but I don’t think it will.” The army said it had no comment because it has not been officially notified of the ruling.

Ferraz said her client turned to the court after the army refused to recognize his civil union with his companion, a computer science student.

In 2011, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that civil unions between same-sex couples must be allowed and that gay couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual pairs.

In May, the country’s National Council of Justice ruled that Brazilian notary publics must register same-sex civil unions as marriages if the couple requests it, and 14 of Brazil’s 27 states so far have legalized same-sex marriages. Efforts in Congress to approve a bill legalizing gay marriage across the nation have been thwarted by conservative evangelical legislators.

Last year, 1,277 same sex couples registered such civil unions with notary publics.

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