The journey towards marriage equality has been a long one. In 2014, Costa Rica’s Social Security System officials unanimously approved reforms that would grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in health care matters—including the ability to make medical decisions, visitation rights, and insurance coverage. Four years later, in August 2018, Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court ruled that laws preventing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and discriminatory, with a caveat that the law could be changed within 18 months. (As The BBC reported, the ruling came much to the chagrin of evangelical legislative members.) Instead, two years later, the country has officially recognized marriage equality.
“Today, Costa Rica officially recognizes same-sex marriage. Today we celebrate liberty, equality and our democratic institutions,” President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who ran on an explicitly pro-LGBTQ platform, tweeted. “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.”
Same-sex marriage is legal in other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, and 18 states in Mexico, but Costa Rica is the first country in Central America to instate marriage equality.
The Human Rights Watch hopes other countries in the area with follow suit. “In Guatemala, for example, a bill in congress seeks to keep same-sex marriage illegal. In Panama, legislators proposed a constitutional amendment in October 2019 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman,” the organization reported in their announcement of Costa Rica’s legislation, “Beyond Central America, Costa Rica’s path to marriage equality can inspire engagement with human rights law and its institutions.”