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Costa Rica is the latest country to legalize same-sex marriage

Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, whose support for same-sex marriage helped fuel his election victory in 2018.
(Manuel Arnoldo Robert Batalla / Getty Images)

Costa Rica became the latest country to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday when a ruling from its supreme court went into effect ending the country’s ban.

Couples scheduled ceremonies — mostly private because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some that would be broadcast — to celebrate their unions before judges and notaries after the ban was lifted at midnight.

Costa Rica is the sixth country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, following most recently Ecuador, which allowed it last year. Same-sex marriage is also permitted in some parts of Mexico.

The issue took center stage in Costa Rica’s 2018 presidential election after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights earlier that year issued an opinion that countries such as Costa Rica, which had signed the American Convention on Human Rights, had to move immediately to legalize gay marriage.

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It helped propel President Carlos Alvarado to victory over an evangelical candidate, Fabricio Alvarado, who had campaigned against it.

In August 2018, Costa Rica’s supreme court said the country’s ban was unconstitutional and gave the congress 18 months to correct it or it would happen automatically. The Legislative Assembly did not act, so at midnight Monday night the law banning same-sex marriage was nullified.

A campaign celebrating the achievement called “I Do” planned a series of events, including hours of coverage on state television and messages from celebrities, including Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Chile.

Gia Miranda, director of the “I Do” campaign, said coverage would also include historical chapters of the movement in Costa Rica.

“It gives us so much joy,” Miranda said. “The only thing that could win with this is Costa Rica and in general love.”

She said the end of the ban would help decrease discrimination and make the country more prosperous and attractive to tourists.


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