October 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Brazil’s highest appeals court for non-constitutional issues, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (STJ), has approved the “marriage” of two lesbians in a 4-1 vote.

The couple, who had been living together for five years in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, will be permitted to civilly “marry” based on an earlier decision of the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), the nation’s highest court for constitutional issues.

The STF ruled in May that homosexual couples can enter into civil unions, despite the Constitution’s explicit restriction of civil unions to “a man and a woman.” 

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice has now ruled that, given that the Constitution “facilitates the conversion of a stable union into marriage,” it must conclude that “sexual orientation cannot serve as a pretext to exclude families from the juridical protection represented by marriage.”

Although the decision is not binding in other cases, it will have profound legal repercussions in Brazil, according to Luiz Mello, coordinator of the Study and Research Group on Gender and Sexuality at the Federal University of Goiás.

“It isn’t a decision with binding effect, but it creates an important precedent,” said Mello. “Now, all of the registry offices and state courts that are thinking about denying this right must remember that the STJ has decided in favor of it.”

The STJ’s decision faces overwhelming opposition against both civil unions and “marriage” for homosexuals from the Brazilian public.

As LifeSiteNews reported in August a recent poll has indicated that Brazilians reject the STF decision permitting civil unions by 55 to 45 percent. A poll in late 2010 found that 60 percent opposed civil unions and only 35 were in favor.