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Same Sex Unions (Gay Marriage) in Costa Rica

September 11th, 2010

Same Sex Mariage in Costa RicaJust as in the US, the issue of same sex unions (gay marriage) is in the forefront of the news in Costa Rica.

It should be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Costa Rica is quite socialistic in its leanings, especially insofar as human rights are concerned.   That would seem to bode well for those in favor of same sex marriages. It is just not that simple.

All things being equal, and they are not, it would seem to be  a distinct possibility that this issue could end up in the SALA IV, the Costa Rica constitutional court where it just might be favorably considered.  All things are not equal however.

If this topic is of interest, read on!

Not surprisingly, the primary (but certainly not the only) opposition to same sex marriage is the Catholic Church, a powerful force to reckoned with for sure.

Costa Rica is about 90-95% Catholic, but unlike many countries, church and state are not separate.  They are one.  In fact,  the Catholic Church is the official church of Costa Rica and is even part of the Costa Rica Constitution:


ARTICLE 75. The Roman Catholic and Apostolic Religion is the religion of the State, which contributes to its maintenance, without preventing the free exercise in the Republic of other forms of worship that are not opposed to universal morality or good customs.

(As amended with regard to its number by Article 1, Law No. 5703, June 6, 1975).

See what I mean?  This is no slam dunk for those in favor of same sex unions.

The Church is now flexing its muscle and making clear their position on this matter, and their muscle cannot be underestimated.  Further, Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla has indicated that she too is not in favor of same sex unions. Still, this may well pit the Church against the Constitutional Court at some point, and all we can do is wait to see the fireworks.

Just recently, the Bishops of Costa Rica sent a strong message to the Costa Rica Asamblea (the congress).   See below the  article by the Catholic News Agency (CNS) or click here to read it directly on the CNA web site.

I have no idea of course where this will end nor how, but those Ticos I have chatted with on this matter seem almost uniformly against this matter.  Saying that, my sample size is admittedly small and cannot be relied upon to mean anything.

Feel free to comment (politely!) on this topic and express your own opinions or feelings. The key word is politely! Comments not fitting this description will never see the light of day.

San José, Costa Rica, Sep 10, 2010 / 06:03 pm (CNA).- The Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica has sent a message to the country’s lawmakers noting that it is an injustice to sacrifice the common good and the rights of the family in response to pressure from those who support making gay unions equal to marriage.

“Marriage is not just any union between two human beings,” they stated, explaining that it was “founded by the Creator, who gave it a particular nature…and an undeniable purpose.” For this reason, the bishops said, they oppose all measures aiming “to make same-sex unions equal to marriage.

“The legalization of such unions distorts the understanding of fundamental moral values and undermines the institution of marriage as such.”

“In making same-sex unions equal to marriage or the family under the law, the state is acting arbitrarily and is contradicting its own duties,” the bishops continued.

They stressed that “men and women with homosexual tendencies must be treated with respect and must not be subject to discrimination.” However, the bishops then reaffirmed the Church’s teaching that “homosexual practices” are “objectively contrary to God’s plan for the human being.”

The bishops also pointed out that the vast majority of Costa Ricans are opposed to the legalization of same-sex unions,” and they rejected the argument that such a move is necessary to prevent such individuals from being deprived of their rights as citizens and persons.

“In reality, like all citizens, thanks to their private autonomy, they can always resort to common law in order to safeguard legal situations that are of mutual interest,” the bishops said. “On the other hand, it would be a grave injustice to sacrifice the common good and the rights of families in order to allow them to obtain benefits that can and should be guaranteed by means that do not harm society at large,” they added.

What these groups and their supporters are doing is nothing more than the “first step towards marriage and adoption, as in fact has occurred in other countries,” the bishops said.

via Legalization of gay unions would be injustice to common good, state bishops of Costa Rica :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

7 Responses to “Same Sex Unions (Gay Marriage) in Costa Rica”

  1. Mario on September 11, 2010 8:33 pm

    Actually the Sala IV seems to have ruled in favor, albeit implicitly. When a couple of weeks back a ruling came out prohibiting a popular vote on the matter, part of the reasons given was that marriage was a human right and those were not up for discussion.

    The ruling doesn’t explicitly state that these unions must be allowed, but it does seem to have elevated same sex marriage to the level of a basic human right in CR , the logical conclusion that follows is that now it’s just a matter of requesting a formal interpretation of that particular point, and demanding that legislation be passed to protect that right, for the whole thing to settle.

    knowing how politicians are here, most likely they’ll simply refuse to legislate on the matter by sending the projects as far back as possible in the legislative chain. From there on it’ll simply become a game of cat and mouse, until the activists manage to get another forced legislation ruling from the Sala IV. Similar to how it went down with the telcos and the frequencies auction: in the end despite all the racket, they had to force the auction via Sala IV

  2. Tim on September 12, 2010 9:52 am

    Hi Mario

    I agree in part. Two things are way different here.

    1. The telco thing was part of TLC and therefore had to be acted upon. Force of law.


    2, The Church IS part of the constitution and their opinions and actions cannot be ignored, even by SALA IV.

    The courts first ruling did not send any message other than it would be unfair to have a popular vote on what is perceived to be human rights… I agree.

    Now enters the Church saying any actions in favor of same sex marriage would affect negatively the PEOPLE and the morals and family values of the COUNTRY and this is their right and responsibility under the constitution. Obviously, I am a foreigner, so maybe I am not getting it… but seems to me this will never be a slam dunk. In fact, while I have no ideas if they would do this, but as a last resort, the bishops could simply threaten to excommunicate any lawmaker or SALA IV judge would supported this matter. They DO carry a big stick here.

    Your thoughts?

  3. George Lincoln Cole II on September 12, 2010 11:20 am

    Since Marriage is primarily a consumated act and not a contractual document and is based on a natural order of procreating. Same sex partners must now find another appropriate word to describe their preference of relations. What they are trying to do in a crime we call ‘Identity Theft’.

  4. EL CLAVO on November 4, 2010 6:11 pm

    Quit it and come bach to reality

  5. Andrea on November 8, 2011 6:57 am

    What it really bothers me of my dearest Costa Rica, is the double moral my neighbors have. Why is it that everybody predicates bible statements and talk about what God wants or said thousand of years ago, pointing us (gay people) as sinners, not capable of building a family with values and principles, when straight couples and marriages are a failure and do not give proper education to their children. What difference does it make? The sex preference? I would say that what really teaches a kid is not the sexual orientation their parents have but the love they show and how they teach the children respect and love among people. If we talk about God that is what he came to teach.
    Then when I listen to the statements of: holly institution of marriage, I immediately think that people who says this is definitely someone who respects his/her spouse, but sadly in Costa Rica the passionate murders are increasing with the time. How many straight couples get divorced a year? or how many straight spouses find out the second life their straight spouses have? how many have been cheated? how many have been abused or raped by their straight couples? how many straight couples vowed eternal love and it was under some social obligation but not an actual feeling? Is this really respect for the institution of marriage? Is this real love? Is this the marriage we want to allow? Most of us live in civil union and that is something no one can stop, since choosing where and who with to live is our very decision; however what we fight to have is the right of sharing our goods as every love-related person or group. We will like to legally have the chance to celebrate our love as every body else does. This is not because some citizens do not agree and we want to argue is because is fair. Because these are equal rights and once again these are Christ teachings.
    How come religious people state that they do not discriminate and do not judge when saying phrases like; I do not disagree I just do not want to see them married, I do not discriminate but is better to not allow gay marriage, marriage is the first request and we do not know what comes, It is not that I do not like them is just that country will become sodomy?? how poor is the education in my country, and how sad that makes me. Most of us have to hide, most of us live as if any body else existed trying to ignore judging and pointing comments on the streets and many others run away to countries where we can be accepted.
    Government or religion should not be involved on the citizens beds and the romantic decision of its community, but always veiling for the welfare of its town.

  6. Raquel on December 17, 2015 11:34 am

    Thanks for all the info on the gay and lesbian front in Costa Rica, however, there is nothing on the transgender community. Is there a reason for this, or is it just being overlooked?

    I’m thinking of retiring there, but want to make sure that I won’t be putting myself in a place that is unfriendly to people like me.
    I am Cuban by birth, speak Spanish fluently, and although I grew up in the US, I am very familiar with the cultural differences in countries outside the US, especially predominately Latin ones.

  7. Tim on December 18, 2015 8:24 am

    Not overlooked… just maybe my lack of knowledge on the topic.

    You should have no issues here, but of course you MUST come and live here away from all tourism for a couple or three months to make that determination.