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Brazil Grants Same-Sex Couples
Death and Disability Pensions

By Ernest Barteldes

Rio Grande do sul, Brazil--Brazil's Folha de SãoPaulo (www.uol.com.br/fsp) reports that a Federal tribunal in Porto Alegre has denied an appeal from the National Social Security System (INSS) following its attempt to quash a recent court decision that extends death or disability pensions to same-sex couples in like manner as they are granted to persons in conventional unions.

According to the report, the decision is valid nationwide. Brazilian homosexual couples may now claim their newly acquired rights simply by registering at any local Social Security office.

The Federal tribunal also declared that the Social Security System must accept and confirm all previously denied registrations in no less than ten days, or it will be liable to a daily fine of up to 30,000 Reais (about $ 17,000).

The Social Security System is now required to accept all benefit requests from same-sex couples who give evidence of maintaining a stable relationship and of having made Social Security payments, which, in Brazil, are mandatory.

The local district attorney took action after an advocacy group from Porto Alegre, Nuances (P.O. 1747 90001-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil) denounced official benefit denials as a "discriminatory practice against the civil rights of gays and lesbians".

The national Social Security System's lawyers argued that homosexuals are not eligible for security benefits under the country's constitution and legislation.

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The district attorneys, however, stated that "the fundamental right of equality" is the constitutional rule that forbids any form of discrimination, including bias as it affects same-sex lovers, and that this principle overrules all other regulations.

The attorneys, in their argument, also mentioned an earlier case in which a homosexual man successfully sued a private health plan organization and was granted the right to include his male companion as a legal dependant.

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