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Why did officials refuse to perform Costa Rica’s first gay wedding?

Why did officials refuse to perform Costa Rica’s first gay wedding?

Two men sitting under trees smiling at the camera

Costa Rica’s first same-sex wedding has faced a bureaucratic hurdle, forcing the loved-up couple to postpone their nuptials at the last minute.

Earlier in January, Costa Rica agreed to comply with an Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruling.

The IACHR ruled that countries it oversees should treat same-sex couples ‘without discrimination.’

Roberth Castillo, 25, and Mario Arias, 28, were due to be married on Saturday in the central American country.

But notaries refused to sign the marriage documents until the laws in Costa Rica had been officially changed. They refused based on instructions from the Notary Council.

The Council had ordered its members to not perform same-sex marriages until local laws were updated.

‘The rules that regulate marriage in Costa Rica … remain in force,’ the council wrote in a letter to its notaries.

Temporary decrees

In its original ruling the IACHR had ruled that the countries in its jurisdiction should pass temporary decrees to allow same-sex couples to start marrying until laws were permanently changed.

That wasn’t enough for the Notary Council in Costa Rica.

Justice Minister Marco Feoli asked it to explain why it was refusing to go against the President’s orders.

‘The Superior Notary Council’s agreement not only contradicts the opinion, but also the position of the Executive Power regarding the ruling,’ Feoli said.

‘President Luis Guillermo Solís has already called on Costa Rican institutions to comply with the ruling, although he said this process may be “gradual” and require extensive dialogue.’

‘We will keep fighting’

In the meantime Castillo and Arias said they would file a lawsuit against the Notary Council.

‘Last night [Friday] we realized what was happening… it impacted us a lot when the notary told us we had to postpone the weeding,’ Arias told media on the weekend.

‘We’ll postpone the wedding… but we’ll continue with the fight.’