In a 10-0 ruling, Brazil's highest court has approved same-sex relationship recognition by ruling in favor of civil unions. One justice abstained from voting.
Brazil's high court ruled that same-sex civil unions must be recognized, a decision welcomed as a watershed by gay activists who also hope it will cool rising violence against homosexuals in Latin America's most populous nation.
The ruling, however, stopped short of legalizing gay marriage in Brazil, which has more Roman Catholics than any other country. The Catholic Church fought the measure.
Same-sex marriage is already legal in Argentina and Mexico City.