Brazil high court allows gay marriage

Brasilia - Brazil's Supreme Court on Tuesday for the first time upheld a same-sex civil marriage.

In a 4 - 1 vote, the highest federal court ruled that the Constitution "makes it possible for stable civil unions to become marriages".

Indeed "sexual orientation should not serve as a pretext for excluding families from the legal protection that marriage represents", the court said in a statement.

Brazilian federal law has not specifically legalised same-sex marriage.

And while state courts are not required to follow the same line as the highest court, the Supreme Court ruling should play some role in discouraging Brazil's states from blocking same-sex marriage, legal experts say.

The ruling stemmed from the case of two women who have tried to wed in Rio Grande do Sul state.

It also comes five months after Brazil's highest court had approved civil unions for same-sex couples.

Argentina is the only country in Latin America to have legalised gay marriage.
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