Costa Rica’s supreme court delays marriage equality for 18 months

Costa Ricans celebrated a court ruling in favor of marriage equality in January. Amelia Rueda

The Supreme Court of Justice in Costa Rica gave the government 18 months to legalize marriage equality.

This past January, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that countries that have signed the American Convention on Human Rights could not ban same-sex couples from marrying.

The Costa Rican government said that it would comply immediately after the ruling, but marriage equality has yet to start in the Central American country seven months after the ruling.

This past Wednesday night, the Supreme Court ruled that Costa Rica must comply with the Inter-American Court’s decision. The legislature has 18 months to pass legislation legalizing marriage equality. If it does not do so in that time, the ban on marriage between two people of the same sex will automatically end.

President Carlos Alvarado haled the ruling, saying he wants to ensure that “no person will face discrimination for their sexual orientation.”

But LGBTQ advocates denounced it because of the 18-month waiting period.

“The ruling makes no sense. Basically what it does is prolong [the wait] for the fulfillment of our rights,” said Marco Castillo, a lawyer who filed one of the lawsuits for marriage equality that the Supreme Court just ruled on.

“It’s a judicial aberration for a state entity to recognize that discrimination exists, and at the same time allow that discrimination to continue for 18 months more,” said activist Margarita Salas.

Costa Rica’s first gay legislator, Enrique Sánchez, said that he doubts the legislature will come up with an agreement in the next 18 months.

“It think it’s improbable that in 18 months the assembly with resolve this,” he said.

In effect, the court is making same-sex couples who want to marry wait 18 months, since the ban on marriage equality will automatically end.

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