A debate over gay marriage has upturned Costa Rica's presidential race, giving ammunition to conservative frontrunners ahead of Sunday's vote and challenging the Central American country's image as a progressive bastion. Evangelical Christian singer and congressman Fabricio Alvarado, who leads recent polls, has pitted himself against a January ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that urges Costa Rica to legalize same-sex marriage. Alvarado, 43, has said the Costa Rica-based court is violating the country's sovereignty and jeopardizing its "traditional family" values. He has threatened to withdraw Costa Rica from the court system, as Venezuela did.
In Latin America, progressive politics present something of a mystery: As LGBT rights have flourished, women’s reproductive rights have floundered. Earlier this month, for example, a bill to legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy was defeated in the Argentine Senate. This is the same body that in 2010 made Argentina the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage with identical rights to heterosexual marriage. And since that historic milestone, Argentina has enacted one of the most liberal laws on gender identity to be found anywhere in the world. Its code allows people to change the gender listed on their legal documents without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or permission from a judge, as is required in most countries.