Updated: Friday, 23 May 2014 06:14 | By Agence France-Presse

Brazilian Church backs legal gay unions

One of Brazil's top Catholic bishops has spoken out in favor of legal unions for homosexual couples, an apparent shift in the Church's stance on the country's existing gay-marriage policy.


Brazilian Church backs legal gay unions

A rainbow flag during a wedding ceremony at the Court of Justice in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 8, 2013 - by Yasuyoshi Chiba

"There needs to be a dialog on the rights attached to shared life between people of the same sex who decide to live together. They need legal support from society," Leonardo Steiner, the secretary general of the National Confederation of Brazilian Bishops, said in an interview with O Globo newspaper published on its website Thursday.

Brazil, home to the world's largest Catholic population, has allowed gay marriage since May 2013, when a court ruled clerks could not reject marriage applications from same-sex couples.

At the time Brazil's bishops opposed the decision, but Steiner said the Church was constantly evolving.

"The Church isn't the same through the ages. It seeks answers for the present time, using the Gospel as the illuminating force of its action," the bishop said.

"The Church is always seeking to read the signs of the times, to see what must or must not change. The truths of faith don't change."

Brazil does not have a gay-marriage law, and Steiner said one reason for the Church's objection to last year's court decision was that the matter had never gone before congress.

Despite the recent move towards inclusiveness, Brazil is a dangerous country for gays. 

More than 300 homosexuals, transsexuals and transvestites are killed every year in the country -- including 312 last year, according to data compiled by rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia, which says the country is among the deadliest for gays.

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