Court recognizes first gay marriage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- A court in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil approved a request to convert the civil union of a gay male couple into a civil marriage, the AFP reported.

Judge Luiz Felipe Francisco said Brazilian law does not prohibit marriage between members of the same sex.

“As there is no explicit barrier to marriage between two people of the same sex, it would be contrary to principles enshrined in the Constitution, such as equality, human dignity and pluralism [to deny the request,]” a statement reads.

The couple asked the court last October to recognize their civil union – referred to as a “stable union” in Brazil – as a marriage. It is the first such decision in the state of Rio de Janeiro and the latest victory in recent months for gay marriage advocates in Latin America's most populous nation.

Two men in June were allowed by a state court judge to legally change their civil union into a full marriage. And in May, the nation's Supreme Court ruled that the government must recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions, but volleyed the issue of marriage back to legislators.

The decision prompted several couples to petition the court system to convert their civil unions into full marriages, with mixed rulings.

Gay couples can legally marry in Argentina and the city-state of Mexico City.

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