Costa Rica’s Supreme Court Just Gave the Country 18 Months to Legalize Gay Marriage … or Else

Costa Rica’s Supreme Court Just Gave the Country 18 Months to Legalize Gay Marriage … or Else

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The Supreme Court of Costa Rica just ruled the country’s laws banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional and said legislators have 18 months to legalize marriage equality or else it’ll become legal by default. The Costa Rica gay marriage decision comes three months after the Central American country elected a pro-LGBTQ president and seven months after a regional court listed Costa Rica among 19 other member countries that must legalize marriage equality under its dictates.

The Costa Rica gay marriage decision says that if legislators doesn’t create a law legalizing same-sex marriage within 18 months, marriage equality will become legal anyway since the court also ruled the country’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional and, therefore, invalid.

But considering how fractured Costa Rica’s legislative assembly is — it’s split between members of seven different political parties, 14 (out of 57) of which belong to the evangelical National Restoration Party — it’s unclear how easy it’ll be for them to craft a marriage equality law, or whether it’ll try and create a watered-down compromise with second-rate civil unions.

In January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that Costa Rica and the court’s 19 other member states must recognize the validity of same-sex marriages, although it didn’t say how or by when.

The IACHR controls “neither the purse nor the sword,” meaning it can’t force member states to abide by its rulings. It’s entirely up to politicians to enforce the rulings, though it seems the Costa Rica’s Supreme Court has helped push the IACHR’s ruling into action.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Costa Rica gay marriage decision gets implemented since 26% of Costa Ricans identify as evangelical and 61% of all citizens oppose marriage equality.

Even still, Costa Rica has a good record of granting LGBTQ rights to its citizens, including the rights of LGBTQ people to donate blood, serve in the civil defense force and to be protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. However, the country lacks same-sex adoption, the right to change one’s gender in an official capacity and, for now, marriage.

What do you think of the Costa Rica gay marriage decision?


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