Brazil’s National Council of Justice, a 15-member panel which oversees the country’s judicial system and is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, ruled today that notaries must register the marriages of same-sex couples and had no standing to deny marriage licenses on the basis of sexual orientation.
Agence France-Presse reports that the decision could be appealed to the Brazilian Supreme Court.
In the panel’s decision, Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa said that the Supreme Court ”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 ruling to which Barbosa is referring is a 2011 decision that allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.
Barbosa also wrote that there was no reason for licensing offices to wait for marriage equality to pass legislatively. As BuzzFeed‘s Chris Geidner notes, Brazilian lawmakers have introduced marriage equality measures periodically over the last decade, but their efforts thus far have been thwarted by a “powerful evangelical bloc of legislators.”
Right now, same-sex couples in Brazil can legally marry in 14 of the country’s 27 states, including São Paolo; Rio de Janeiro; and Brasilia, the capital. If today’s ruling holds, it would appear to extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples nationwide.