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Brazil approves same-sex civil unions

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Brazil's highest court has recognized same-sex civil unions across the nation. The court's decision means that gay couples will be provided with the same legal rights as their straight counterparts. Covered among these are alimony, inheritances, and retirement benefits of a partner who has died. 

The ruling is a pleasant reprieve from the gay-rights news you usually hear out of Brazil, a country struggling to prevent a rising tide of anti-gay crime. Gay-rights group Grupo Gay de Bahia said that 260 gays were murdered in 2010 in Brazil, up 113 percent from five years ago. Hopefully, the new law and the ideal of acceptance it symbolizes will have a ripple effect in the law enforcement and judicial sectors of the country, and help put a lid on this kind of violence.

Argentina and Mexico City remain the only two places in Latin America where gay marriage is legal, though. The Catholic Church is a powerful influence in Latin America, and as we've learned in the past, they are super un-cool about gay stuff.