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Marriage Equality Under Attack in Brazil

On Tuesday, October 10th, the Chamber of Deputies in Brazil passed a bill that made same-sex marriage illegal. The law in Brazil does not legalize or explicitly outline same-sex marriage. However, it became possible due to a landmark 2011 Supreme Federal Court ruling (STF) ruling.

The STF declared same-sex marriage constitutional and ensured consistent interpretation nationwide. Following this decision, civil registries gradually began administratively recognizing same-sex marriages.

When it began in 2007, bill number 580, introduced by then-deputy Clodovil Hernandes, aimed to legalize marriage for LGBTQIA+ individuals. However, during its process, it was consolidated with other similar bills through a procedure called "apensamento." 

"Apensamento" is a legislative procedure where multiple bills addressing similar topics are processed together. This consolidation allows these proposals to advance collectively, ensuring that decisions made for one bill apply uniformly to all consolidated proposals. In total, there were nine bills grouped.

Within the nine, there was bill number 580, which aimed to legalize same-sex marriage, and the bill proposed in 2009 by Captain Lucinio Castelo de Assumção to do the exact opposite. Eight out of nine bills were rejected except for the Assumção's. Now, the bill is being processed in the Chamber with a purpose opposite to the original proposal.

"The Brazilian state has been negligent in legislating and enacting laws that guarantee the rights of the LGBTQIA+ population," says lawyer Luanda Pires, the President of the Brazilian Association of LBTI+ Women. She claims that Bill 580 serves a purpose "much more political than practical, as it questions rights already embraced by society."

Once approved, the bill will undergo discussions in two other commissions before being debated in the plenary session of deputies. If it garners majority support, the bill will proceed to the Senate for further consideration.

In Brazil's legislative process, once a bill successfully navigates the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate and gains approval, it advances to the President for the final decision. The bill encounters two potential vetoes at this stage: judicial and presidential.

The Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) holds the authority to veto a bill, exclusively if it is considered unconstitutional. Additionally, President Lula has the power to veto the bill, preventing it from becoming law.

The decision to ban same-sex marriage does not affect people already married under the STF's decision. No marriages will be annulled due to the bill's passing, but it does make it impossible for future weddings to occur. In this intricate landscape of legal and legislative developments, the fate of same-sex marriage in Brazil remains uncertain.

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