“This union is not just symbolic,” because it defines “how they intend to have children,” attorney Leitao said.

The lovers — a businesswomen and a dentist who are both 32 and a 34-year-old office manager — have been together for three years and wish to remain anonymous. Despite salacious media speculation about their supposed love life, they are in fact shy, their lawyer said.

The union is not a formal marriage, because under Brazilian law that would be bigamy. Neither are they automatically allowed to declare joint income or join a healthcare plan for spouses.

But the civil union is still a big step, according to the lawyer.