By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The largest collective same-sex civil wedding ceremony in the world took place in Rio de Janeiro’s Armazém Utopia, on the afternoon of Sunday, November 23rd, according to the Rio de Janeiro State Department of Social Welfare and Human Rights. During the ceremony, the marriages of 160 homosexual and transgender couples were simultaneously officiated.
“It is an affirmative action to call attention to all of the achievements and challenges in the area of civil and human rights of the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community,” Cláudio Nascimento, coordinator of Rio Sem Homofobia (Rio Without Homophobia) told Agência Brasil. “Marriage ensures the possibility of a future together. First, having a home, then the possibility to expand the family with the security of being within the laws.”
Sunday’s event was the fifth mass civil same-sex wedding ceremony held in the state. Thus far, a reported five hundred couples have benefited from the events organized by Rio sem Homofobia in partnership with the Rio de Janeiro State Court.
“In the first ceremony we had 43 couples, the last, 132,” said Nascimento, adding, “the trend is growing because couples are encouraged when they see that the event is praiseworthy, well-organized and that they will be treated with respect.”
The Brazilian Supreme Court first recognized the rights of homosexual couples to be legally partnered or to enter into civil unions in May of 2011. In 2013, the country legalized same-sex marriage.
“It’s a wonderful time,” Jane Di Castro, a forty-seven year old transvestite actress and singer who performed during the opening ceremony of the mass wedding on Sunday before joining her partner to be wed along with the other participating couples on Sunday, told Agência Brasil. “For those who came of age during the dictatorship, we are now living in a paradise.”