Dissertation Abstracts

Citizenship and Sexual Rights: A Comparative Study of the Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Unions in Brazil and South Africa

Author: Gomes da Costa, Gustavo , gustavo.gomescosta@ufpe.br
Department: Political Science
University: State University of Campinas UNICAMP, Brazil
Supervisor: Evelina Dagnino
Year of completion: 2011
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: Homosexuality , Same-sex unions , Sexual and reproduti , Citizenship
Areas of Research: Law , Human Rights and Global Justice , Political Sociology


This research analyses the struggles and conflicts around the legal recognition of same-sex unions in Brazil and South Africa. The study takes the historical perspective to understand how both countries have met the demands for sexual rights in the political arena. The South African “success” in passing favorable legislation for same-sex couples is contrasted against the Brazilian “failure” in approving laws which extend marital rights for lesbian and gay couples. These divergent results are explained by differences in the configuration of political and legal systems and the presence (or absence) of political actors (in civil society and the State) committed to a democratic political project. This study also includes an analysis of the rights granted to same-sex couples through laws and judicial decisions. Based on the differences in naming, the study examines: a) if laws and judicial decisions in both countries had extended all conjugal rights (inheritance, tax deductions, joint adoption, immigration rights) to same-sex couples and b) to what extent these laws and judicial decisions have symbolically equalized same-sex and opposite sex couples.