Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Supreme Court Decision on Equal Marriage in Costa Rica

August 14, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica to declare unconstitutional the article of the Family Code that explicitly prohibits same-sex marriage. The Commission urges the State to move forward expeditiously in the effective implementation of this ruling.

The Costa Rican Supreme Court of Justice ordered the Costa Rican Congress to adapt the legislation within 18 months, recognizing equal marriage between persons of the same sex. According to the Court's decision, if Congress does not comply with this legal mandate, the current rule will lose its force and equal marriage will be recognized automatically once the term ends.

The decision refers to the criteria of Advisory Opinion 24/17 of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in which it urged States to promote the legislative, administrative and judicial reforms necessary to adapt their domestic systems to ensure that persons of the same sex have the right to marry. However, the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice has maintained the validity of article 14, paragraph 6, of the Family Code for 18 months has caused concern to Costa Rican civil society.

In this regard, the Commission emphasizes that the American Convention on Human Rights prohibits discrimination of any kind. In consequence, any discriminatory norm, act or practice based on a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. No national law may in any way diminish or restrict a person's rights on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.

"It is important that States in the region recognize diverse families and that the lack of consensus in a country is not used as a valid argument to deny or restrict the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, or to reproduce the historical and cultural discrimination that these people have suffered," said Flavia Piovesan, IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons.

The Inter-American Commission urges States to promote laws and public policies that guarantee the human rights to equality and non-discrimination of LGBTI people, advancing the construction of more inclusive, egalitarian societies free from all forms of violence, discrimination and prejudice.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 181/18