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Costa Rica rejects delays: Same-sex marriage will definitely start on Tuesday

Costa Rica rejects delays: Same-sex marriage will definitely start on Tuesday

  • Lawmakers had tried to delay marriage equality using COVID-19 as an excuse.
Pride parade in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly has swept away a last minute bid to delay same-sex marriage.

Now that hurdle has been cleared, same-sex couples and LGBT+ campaigners have finally got the news they’ve waited years to hear. Same-sex marriage will be law in Costa Rica from Tuesday (26 May).

The Legislative Assembly rejected the bid to delay that date by 33 votes against to 20 in favor yesterday.

Enrique Sánchez of the Citizen Action Party said: ‘Equal Marriage is a legal reality in our country. That will not change. The Inter-American Court and the Constitutional Chamber have made this clear.’

The long road to marriage equality

Same-sex marriage equality has already been years in the making.

Back in November 2017, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that all of its signatory countries must allow same-sex marriage. This includes Costa Rica.

Then in August 2018, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled it was against the constitution to block same-sex marriage.

That November, the Supreme Court justices gave the country’s Legislative Assembly 18 months to act. 26 May marks that deadline meaning the court’s ruling overrides the ban on same-sex marriage.

Despite this, 26 deputies asked for another delay this month. They wanted ‘a minimum of 18 months’ after the COVID-19 pandemic ends before the first same-sex marriages.

But the assembly’s vote removes this final block.

Naturally, celebrations will be limited as the pandemic is preventing mass gatherings. But Sí Acepto Costa Rica is marking the day with a special broadcast. The invitation for the events says:

Decades of effort and struggle for rights reach a historic moment on May 26 when Costa Rica becomes the first country in Central America to approve civil marriage for people of the same sex.

Will marriage equality spread even further?

Meanwhile the Inter-American Court’s decision from 2017 – published in January 2018 – still stands. And it could change the law in other countries too.

Of the court’s member countries, only Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay already have marriage equality. Costa Rica will bring that number up to six.

But the ruling also applies to Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname.

Of those, the most advanced is arguably Mexico which has marriage equality in 18 of its 31 states and in the capital, Mexico City.

The ruling is binding on all member countries, however it is not clear how long it will take them to follow Costa Rica.