Forty-seven gay and lesbian couples “married” last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The mass ceremony included thirty-two female and fifteen male couples exchanging vows and formalizing their “stable unions,” a form of civil unions extended to gay couples by court order in 2011. Stable unions offer couples a range of rights similar to marriage.

It is the first such event to be organized and sponsored by the regional government. Officials said they wanted to “promote” the union to gay couples.

Several gay and lesbian couples in recent months have successfully petitioned the courts to convert their stable unions into full marriages.

Priscilla Pires da Silva, 24, and Kathrein Marrichi Martin, 31, who have been together two years, were the first couple to tie the knot.

Silva, a divorced mother, told G1: “I always knew from an early age that I was gay, but people don't accept it. So when love appears, there are no words to explain it. I'm very happy.”

Americo Nunes Neto, 51, and Jorge Eduardo Reyes Rodriguez, 62, formalized their union after 24 years together.

Hundreds of family and friends attended the event.