BRASILIA — While most Brazilians are focused on the country's deepening economic and political crises, some politicians have another priority.
A special committee in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies passed a controversial statute last week that defined a family as a concept beginning from the union of a man and a woman. Rio de Janeiro daily O Globo reports that the text was promoted by conservative lawmakers with close ties to the Catholic Church, over fierce opposition from the governing Workers' Party of President Dilma Rousseff and pro-LGBT activists who spent last week protesting outside parliament.
The parliamentary showdown comes after the May 2013 decision by a Federal Court to effectively legalize gay marriage. Religious lawmakers told O Globo that the decision was a case of the judiciary overstepping its authority, and that Congress had to defend the traditional family structure.
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A file image of LGBT protesters at Brazili's Congress in Brasilia — Photo: Antonio Cruz
The vote sparked virulent debate between supporters and opponents of the statute. One legislator supporting the proposed new definition of family told the newspaper that gay marriage was "Marxist state intervention." A same-sex marriage supporter likened the new statute to a coup d'état.
The special committee's debate was called by Chamber of Deputies President Eduardo Cunha, President Rousseff's foremost political enemy. The statute represents another conflict between Congress and the President, who have been embroiled in a political battle for months over a massive corruption probe targetting Rousseff's party.