Costa Rica Is Now The First Central American Country To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Costa Rican flag flying outside a building in San Jose, Costa Rica
Jose Conejo Saenz / Pixabay

On Tuesday, Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage, Reuters reported. The journey to marriage equality in the nation has been a long one. After decades of advocacy, in August of 2018, Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court ruled that it was illegal to prevent gay marriages. However, the court ruled that the Costa Rican legislature had 18 months to enact a marriage equality law. If they did not do so, the ruling would automatically make same-sex weddings legal.

Religious groups and a group of more than 20 Costa Rican lawmakers tried to delay the law from going into effect, but their legislative efforts failed, according to Reuters. As such, the law went into effect automatically at midnight on Tuesday.

Same-sex couples all over Costa Rica celebrated by getting married in overnight ceremonies, BBC News reported. Alexandra Quiros and Dunia Araya became the first gay couple to legally tie the knot in Costa Rica. The ceremony was broadcast on national television as part of a three-hour-long TV special celebrating marriage equality.

Costa Rica’s president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, tweeted his support for marriage equality shortly after midnight. CNN translated the tweet from Spanish to English:

“Today, Costa Rica officially recognizes same-sex marriage,” he wrote. “Today we celebrate liberty, equality and our democratic institutions. May empathy and love be the compass that guide us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone.”

LGBTQ+ organizations around the world celebrated Costa Rica’s decision, posting their support on social media, CNN reported.

“We rejoice with you: congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make it happen!” tweeted the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World).

The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, released a statement about the historic win, adding that there is still a lot of work left to do in other areas of the world.

“Today, Costa Rica has made history, bringing marriage equality to Central America for the first time. Costa Rica’s LGBTQ community has worked tirelessly for years to make today a reality. This victory is theirs, and it inspires the entire global LGBTQ community to continue fighting to move equality forward.”

According to Reuters, Costa Rica is now the sixth Latin American country to legalize gay marriage. Though the fight to legalize these unions has faced an uphill battle in Latin America, especially because of religious opposition, same-sex couples can now legally marry in Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and parts of Mexico.