Costa Rica’s Supreme Court has ruled marriage equality must be law by 2020.
The court has ruled the Latin American nation’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The ruling therefore gives legislators only 18 months to change the current law.
Supreme Court judge Fernando Castillo told a press conference the ban will cease to legally exist in 18 months. Even if no action is taken by the legislature, politicians will be unable to stop the ban from being repealed by February 2020.
Activists are appealing the 18 month delay.
The legislative chamber has 57 seats. 14 of these seats are held by evangelical and extremely homophobic members.
Enrique Sanchez, the country’s first openly gay legislator, has said he does not believe the assembly would have changed the law.
President Carlos Alvarado, earlier this year, won the presidential election.
Following the ruling, the president said he wants to guarantee ‘no person will face discrimination for their sexual orientation’.
He won the 60% of the vote, beating evangelical singer Fabricio Alvarado (no relation).
Same-sex marriage was a dominant issue throughout the election campaign.
When the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that member nations should legalize same-sex marriage, Fabricio said it violated Costa Rica’s ‘traditional values’.
Costa Rica’s government at the time agreed to comply with the IACHR’s ruling. But Fabricio said it was ‘a violation of the country’s sovereignty and an affront to traditional values.’
Marriage equality takes center stage
Costa Rica’s 3.3 million residents are predominantly Roman Catholic and most consider themselves conservative. Many commentators said the election would essentially be a referendum on marriage equality because the issue had taken center stage during the campaign.
Alvarado said his win sent a ‘beautiful’ message to the world.
‘Let’s celebrate our 200 years of Indpendence with a government worthy and up to date with the times,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘Today, the world is watching us and we sent a beautiful democratic message.’