RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil's government for the first time has granted a foreign citizen the right to live permanently in the country based on a same-sex relationship with a Brazilian citizen, according to a notice published Monday in the country's Federal Register.
Spanish man, Antonio Vega Herrera, and his Brazilian partner live in the town of Aracatuba in Sao Paulo state.
The action grows out of an October ruling by country's Supreme Court that recognized same-sex marriage, giving gay couples the rights such as the ability to jointly file taxes and to jointly adopt a child.
Gay rights activists lauded the new announcement as an important victory.
"We're advancing our rights as part of a conversation about democracy in this country," said Julio Moreira, president of the Rio de Janeiro gay rights group Arco Iris, which means rainbow in Portuguese. "Our constitution says no one should be discriminated against, so we see this in the same terms as the fight against racism and sexism."
The next step is to push Congress to pass legislation guaranteeing those rights, Moreira said, so that each case doesn't have to be petitioned separately to the courts.
"The legal system is closing these gaps in rights, but Congress has to legislate to tie it all together," he said.
In the United States, same-sex couples that include a foreigner have petitioned for permanent residency based on the relationship, but none so far have been granted the right. A bill pending in U.S. Congress would allow that right.