A bit late to the party, but celebratory news nonetheless: Costa Rica has now become the first Central American country, and the sixth Latin American country, to legalize same-sex marriage! 

On May 26th, the first same-sex couple, Alexandra Quiros and Dunia Araya tied the knot, which was broadcasted live, in Heredia, Costa Rica. This comes on the day of the announcement that same-sex marriages are to be officially recognized in the country. 

And to welcome the change, the Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado Quesada said:

"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."

And so, a slew of weddings happened overnight, while various others celebrated the win too.

ILGA World - (The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) said:

"Costa Rica is celebrating today: marriage equality has become a reality in the country - the first one in Central America! We rejoice with you: congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make it happen!"

While the Human Rights Campaign president, Alphonso David, said:

"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."

And while this is excellent news, it still comes with some negative opinions and detrimental comments from some residents and communities within the country... 

In a survey conducted in January 2020, it was found that less than 30 percent of Costa Ricans favored same-sex marriage. 

And in that same month, what would have been the first same-sex marriage was blockd by notaries who were unwilling to recognize it until the laws were officially changed.

Additionally, the Catholic Church’s Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica said:

“In the natural order of things, that basic nucleus of society is based on monogamous and heterosexual marriage.”

Still a long way to go for some, it seems...

With that, let’s take a look at the history of same-sex marriage in Costa Rica, as well as a timeline of gender identity within the country.

The History of Same-Sex Marriages in Costa Rica

Up until 1971, same-sex relations in Costa Rica were noted as illegal. Following the changed status, 2013 saw same-sex couples gain some domestic partnership benefits, while 2018 held a number of announcements in favour or same-sex couples and transgender individuals.

In January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights stated that “same-sex marriage, adoption for same-sex couples, and the recognition of transgender people’s gender identity on ID cards” would become mandatory. 

On July 1st 2018, the president of Costa Rica persisted to apologize publicly to the country for the discrimination of LGBTQI+ individuals. In his announcement, president Carlos Alvardado Quesada said:

On behalf of the Government of the Republic, I ask your forgiveness and I renew my commitment to fight so that this shameful chapter of our history will not be repeated.”

In August 2018, the Costa Rican Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were no longer to be banned in the country, giving the Legislative Assembly 18 months to amend the law. If the changes did not take place, the law would then automatically change after 18 months. 

And so, on 26 May 2020, Costa Rica officially became the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriages. 2020 also saw the legalization of same-sex couples adopting children.

Gender Identity in Costa Rica: A Timeline

  • 2013: Transgender individuals could legally change their name on documents to match their gender identity
  • 2016: It was made legal for transgender individuals to change their name and gender
  • 2017: Hormone replacement therapy becomes free for transgender individuals through the national universal health care system
  • 2018: Individuals can legally change their name, photograph, and sex on their ID cards
  • 2018: A ruling stated that equal rights are provided to same-sex couples and individuals whose self-perceived gender is different from their birth gender
  • 2018: An individual’s birth gender will no longer appear on ID documents

To end off, a celebratory yet honest quote from David on the day that same-sex marriage was made legal in Costa Rica:

"Today is a day for celebration, but also a reminder of the work we still must do around the world in our global fight for recognition and inclusion.”

Truer words have never been spoken.