By Fabio Teixeira
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 5 (Openly) - Gay Brazilians rushed to the altar ahead of President Jair Bolsonaro taking office, according to newly released data that campaigners say reflected fears the incoming leader would clamp down on their rights.
Same-sex marriage in Brazil rose 62% in 2018, and a fifth of the 9,520 gay weddings took place in December, according to Brazil's government statistics agency IBGE.
The right-wing Bolsonaro, who once called himself a "proud homophobe," took office on Jan. 1, 2019 after being elected in October 2018.
Rights advocates said Bolsonaro's election led many LGBT+ people to the altar for fear that he might pass legislation limiting their right to wed.
"The LGBT community knows its rights, and this conservative wave led to a reaction, to reaffirm this right and defend it," said Claudio Nascimento, of Brazil's LGBTI National Alliance, a non-profit group.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 27 countries, with Ecuador, Taiwan and Austria joining the list this year. Pressure for marriage equality by campaigners and lawmakers also has risen in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea this year.
In 2013, Brazil's National Council of Justice recognized the legal right of same-sex couples to marry.
"We are increasingly aware that it protects us," said Almir França of Grupo Arco-Iris, a LGBT+ charity.
The right to marry entitles spouses to share health care benefits and inheritances, advocates note.
While on the rise, same-sex weddings in Brazil represented less than 1% of all unions in 2018, IBGE data showed. The data was released this week. (Reporting by Fabio Teixeira; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
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