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Costa Rica becomes first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage

The historic day marked the culmination of a two-decade-long fight for marriage equality in the nation, overcoming strong opposition from religious conservatives.

Costa Rica becomes first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage on Tuesday, after a landmark court ruling came into effect at midnight. The historic day marked the culmination of a two-decade-long fight for marriage equality in the nation, overcoming strong opposition from religious conservatives. President Carlos Alvarado Quesada celebrated the long-awaited dawn of a new era in a tweet which states: Today, Costa Rica officially recognizes same-sex marriage. Today we celebrate liberty, equality, and our democratic institutions. May empathy and love be the compass that guides us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone.



 

 

The historic move follows an August 2018 ruling by the country's Constitutional Court, reports CNN, which ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. They gave parliament 18 months to enact marriage equality, failing which the ruling recognizing same-sex marriages would automatically go into effect once the deadline expired on May 26, 2020. Costa Rica's LGBTQIAP+ community celebrated the long-awaited day with virtual parties in compliance with social distancing requirements as couples marked the occasion by tying the knot at midnight. Alexandra Quiros and Dunia Araya were one of the first same-sex couples to get married, exchanging their vows in a ceremony that was broadcasted on national TV.



 

 

"Same-sex couples have waited for many decades for the recognition of their rights on equal terms," said ​​LBGTI Presidential Commissioner for the Population, Luis Salazar. "They pay the same taxes as any other citizen, they have the same obligations under the law, but sexual orientation became a discriminatory condition to deny them their rights." According to The Tico Times, the lawyer and activist pointed to a recent attempt by conservative deputies to indefinitely postpone the legalization of same-sex marriages with lawmakers arguing that they needed time to legislate on it.



 

 

The attempt was backed by the president of the Legislative Assembly, evangelical pastor Eduardo Cruickshank, who reportedly stated on social media that he was "committed to defending the family as established and pleasing our Heavenly Father." The motion was ultimately rejected by the Legislative Assembly, clearing a final major legal hurdle for the country's LGBTQIAP+ community. "Costa Rica is celebrating today: marriage equality has become a reality in the country - the first one in Central America," the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World) said in a tweet. "We rejoice with you: congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make it happen!"



 

 

President Alvarado, who supported same-sex marriage during his candidacy and marched during the 2019 pride parade in San José, also shared a message of support for marriage equality with the nation in a lengthy video published Monday night. "Our duty is to combat all types of discrimination, whether due to disability, ethnicity, culture, religious creed, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, or any other. The modification that comes into effect eliminates five words in one law. However, this change will bring about a significant social and cultural transformation in the country," he said.



 

 

"It allows thousands of people to marry in front of a lawyer to recognize a couple’s rights such as inheritances, pensions, medical decisions, and among others. The people who will be able to access this right are not strangers. They are sons, daughters, friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers. They are people who, when they decide to get married, will do so for love, stability and because they have a vision for the future. They have the same motivations that anyone could have," he continued. "They do not seek to disrespect, nor attack any personal belief. They search only for the understanding and dignity that everyone deserves, no matter who they are or who they love."



 

 

"As Costa Ricans, we should not be strangers to ourselves. I am aware that an important sector of the population disagrees with this legal agreement. To all those people I want to say that despite the differences we may have, we are still the same nation and must walk united. To the LGBTQ community, whose rights will be recognized, I reiterate my ongoing compromise. Over decades you were offended, humiliated, persecuted, but you never gave up the fight. You persisted with pride and determination. You did so with the three unstoppable forces that should guide the 21st century: Liberty, equality, and democratic institutions," the President added. "Thanks to your work over decades, Costa Rica recognizes the rights you always deserved and returns a little of the liberty that so often was limited. You, your partners, your families, your children will have the same rights as any other person, couple, or family in this country."



 

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