Costa Rica legalized same-sex marriage on Tuesday, becoming the first Central American country to do so and sparking an emotional response from rights campaigners as the first weddings were held overnight. Celebrations were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but a special program about LGBT rights was broadcast on public television and online after a court ruling came into force at midnight. “This change will bring about a significant social and cultural transformation, allowing thousands of people to marry,” President Carlos Alvarado said in the program. Costa Rica is the eighth country in the Americas to recognize same-sex marriage — a group that includes Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina, Canada and the United States. The Costa Rican Supreme Court in August 2018 ruled that a ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and gave parliament 18 months to amend the laws. It failed to do that, so the provision was automatically annulled. “Costa Rica is celebrating today: Marriage equality has become a reality in the country — the first one in Central America,” tweeted the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.