Costa Rica’s Progress on Marriage Equality Should Inspire the Region


Costa Rica became the first Central American country to allow same-sex marriage on May 26. This is no small political feat in a country where the issue divided voters in the 2018 presidential race, and in a sub-region that is markedly religious and socially conservative. Earlier this month, lawmakers even came to physical blows around an unlikely legislative motion to delay the constitutional court’s 2018 ruling to allow marriage equality from taking effect. Costa Rica’s laudable vindication of the rights of same-sex couples has regional significance. It represents a profound respect for the country’s international obligations and the institutions to which it is a party. In 2016, Costa Rica asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to interpret the scope of the right to privacy, the right to a name, and the right to equal protection under the American Convention on Human Rights. In a landmark 2017 opinion, applicable to 23 states parties, the regional court ruled that all rights applicable to the family relationships of heterosexual couples should also extend to same-sex couples.

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