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Brazil court awards UK citizen permanent visa based on gay marriage

November 27, 2003

Gays marching with Brazilian flags in front of a billboard with Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo, 02 June 2002, during the GLBT Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil. According to the GLBT, more than 300,000 homosexuals marched in the parade. (Photo: AFP/Mauricio Lima)
SAO PAULO — In an unprecedented court decision, a British citizen in southern Brazil has won the right to a permanent visa based on his common-law marriage to a Brazilian man, the man said Wednesday.

"I've been making do with tourist visas since 1996, but my most recent one expired Sunday," David Ian Harrad said in a telephone interview from Curitiba, 400 kilometers (240 miles) south of Sao Paulo. "This time, we decided to see what the courts could do for us."

Harrad and Brazilian companion Toni Reis, a local gay-rights activist, sought an injunction from a federal court recognizing their union as a common-law marriage. Harrad's marital status would then allow him to obtain a permanent visa, the equivalent of a Green Card giving him the right to live in Brazil indefinitely.

"The court handed down the injunction on Monday," said Harrad.

In granting the petition, Federal Judge Ana Morozowski wrote: "Although they are of the same sex, the authors of the petition live in a state of matrimony, a fact which extends, to Mr. Harrad, the right of permanent residence."

Morozowski wrote that the basis of her decision was a provision in the 1988 Brazilian Constitution "prohibiting any form of discrimination, including discrimination as to sexual preference." Reis said, "All I can say is how delighted I am that my spouse will now be able to live with me permanently."

Reis said Harrad has been leaving and re-entering the country since 1996 on short-term visas. Reis did the same when the pair lived in England from 1990 to 1996.

Lawyers for Harrad and Reis said Brazilian courts have recognized common-law marriages in cases of gay unions before but never for the purpose of obtaining a permanent visa. –Sapa-AP

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