Gay couples across Brazil can begin applying for marriage licenses with or without a marriage equality law passed by the country's congress, according to a ruling Tuesday (14 May) by Brazil's top judicial panel.
The National Council of Justice said government offices in Brazil do not have the legal standing to deny the licenses to same-sex couples.
The ruling, which can be appealed to the Supreme Court, appears to clear the way for same-sex marriage in a country where several states have already legalized it.
Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa, who heads the council that oversees the Brazilian judicial system, states that the Supreme Court has already 'affirmed that the expression of homosexuality and homosexual affection cannot serve as a basis for discriminatory treatment, which has no support in the Constitution.'
The Brazilian Congress is currently considering a bill to legalize gay marriage nationwide but the states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Espírito Santo, Bahia, Alagoas, Sergipe, Piauí, Ceará. and The Federal District have already made same-sex marriage legal.
Barbosa said there is no reason to wait for the congress to take action.