Marriage equality is finally set to go into effect in Costa Rica on May 26, 18 months after the Costa Rican Supreme Court initially voted to legalize gay marriage. The court gave lawmakers a year and a half to implement the ruling.
Last week, over 20 conservative lawmakers in Costa Rica attempted to delay the ruling from going into effect for another 18 months, per Reuters. They argued that the coronavirus had prevented them from taking the necessary time to review the decision.
However, legislators rejected the motion to delay, according to Gay Star News. Marriage equality will officially become law in Costa Rica, and the country’s Civil Registry will begin processing same-sex marriage registrations in a matter of days.
Costa Rica is the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Some Latin American countries have already done so, including Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia.
In Costa Rica, marriage equality has been a long, hard-won battle. Back in 2016, then-president Luis Guillermo Solis promised to expand LGBTQ+ rights in the country. He called for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which advocates for human rights in over 20 Latin American countries, to require the implementation of marriage equality. The court eventually did so in January 2018.
The debate over gay marriage caused a major political division in Costa Rica, and it was a hot issue in the 2017-18 presidential election.
The divisive environment was difficult for gay people in the country. “It was like a referendum on gay rights,” former Vice President Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría told The Economist in 2018. “We went through torture during those months because, for the first time in my country, gay people were feeling fear. It was hateful.”
In the end, though, marriage equality came out ahead. President Carlos Alvarado Quesada is staunchly in favor of LGBTQ+ rights. After the Supreme Court ruling he tweeted, “It’s now just a matter of time. Full equal rights will come, love will prevail.”
Next week, that finally comes true.