Latin America

Costa Rica family court shuts down same-sex marriage loop hole

Lorenzo Serrano and Alberto Gonzalez

Lorenzo Serrano and Alberto Gonzalez

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — A family court in Costa Rico has rejected a request by a same-sex couple to register their relationship as a marriage, effectively shutting down a loophole created when lawmakers voted to amend a law that mistakenly removed language defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.

The court rejected the request by Alberto Gonzalez and Lorenzo Serrano, ruling that the Family Code regulating marriage only applies to the unions formed between a man and a woman.

Lorenzo Serrano and Alberto Gonzalez

Lorenzo Serrano and Alberto Gonzalez

The ruling is in the first legal test of Costa Rica’s controversial reform to the Young Person Law approved in July.

Gonzalez and Serrano have been living together for seven years and based their request partly on the Young Person Law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The measure states that a civil union is recognized “without discrimination contrary to human dignity, social and economic effects of domestic partnerships that constitute publicly, notoriously unique and stable, with legal capacity for marriage for more than three years.”

Several conservative lawmakers said they voted for the bill without realizing its legal impact.

Gonzalez said he was saddened by the court’s decision but was not surprised: “I haven’t been able bring myself to read the court’s resolution because I don’t want to hurt my heart,” he told La Nacion.

“We were hopeful because the Young Person’s Law is quite clear,” Gonzalez said. “The struggle isn’t over yet.”

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The couple’s attorney, Marco Castillo, who also heads the country’s LGBT advocacy group, Movimiento Diversidad (Diversity Movement), stated: “We maintain that it is discrimination that unions between gays are not recognized.”

The couple said they would appeal to the country’s Constitutional Chamber against the ruling.

Nine other same-sex couples same-sex couples have filed applications in Heredia and Desamparados courts to have their relationships registered as marriage aswell.

But because courts in Costa Rica do not depend upon precedents in other courts, the nine other applications still have a chance to be approved.

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