Costa Rica just made history by becoming the first country in Central America (and sixth in Latin America) to legalize same-sex marriage when a supreme court ruling went into effect early May 26 and ended the country’s ban. Couples immediately held their wedding ceremonies (mostly in private) and made their vows in front of judges and notaries after the ban was lifted at midnight.
Back in 2018, BBC News reported that the country’s court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and discriminatory. Costa Rica’s president Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who took office in May 2018, promised to legalize same-sex marriage during his campaign for the country’s 2018 elections; not only that, the country also had its first openly gay congressman, Enrique Sanchez, elected in that year. Their supreme court gave their congress 18 months to legislate or else the ban would be immediately overruled. Monday night marked that deadline to which human rights activists celebrated the milestone.
Costa Rica oficialmente reconoce el matrimonio igualitario. Hoy celebramos la libertad, la igualdad y las instituciones democráticas. Que sean la empatía y el amor la brújula que nos permita salir adelante y construir un país donde quepamos todas las personas ???️?
Campaigns celebrating the change such as the “I do” campaign will be releasing television coverage of the movement’s history in Costa Rica and messages from celebrities, including Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The campaign also planned a public party to celebrate the country’s achievement, but was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, that did not stop queer couples from celebrating their legalized unions. Daritza Araya Arguedas and Alexandra Quirós got married in an outdoor service (and streamed online) just after midnight, becoming Costa Rica’s first legal gay marriage.
Equality activist and lawyer Marco Castillo married his long-time boyfriend Rodrigo Campos early Tuesday morning in front of a judge, two witnesses, relatives and hundreds of online viewers.
“It’s a stepping stone towards equality that makes us keep up the fight for respect that those of us with a different sexual orientation deserve,” Castillo told the media after signing the certificate and exchanging rings at the registry office in San Jose.
Despite the existence of laws that allow same-sex marriage in other Latin American countries like Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and parts of Mexico, the LGBTQ+ community from that region still faces discrimination and violence. A study revealed that at least 1,300 LGBTQ+ people were murdered in Latin America and the Caribbean. Costa Rica’s lift of the ban signifies a step towards ending this inequality. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the U.N. Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (and also Costa Rican) called it “an extraordinary moment of celebration and gratitude to the work of so many activists, and of quiet reflection of the loves of those who lived without seeing this moment.” Gia Miranda, director of the “I do” campaign, also stated that this could make Costa Rica more prosperous, attractive to tourists and hopefully end the discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community. We hope that the Philippines can follow soon.