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The Inter-American Court of Human Rights Invites Latin America to Legalize Same-sex Marriage

(Blogmensgo, schwuler Blog vom 13. Januar 2018) In response to a demand by the president of Costa Rica two years ago, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights prompts Costa Rica and the other American countries to bring LGBT peoples’ personal rights in line with heterosexuals. This basically comes down to the recognition of same-sex couples and legalization of gay marriage. The decision of January 9, 2018 mostly aims at the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean but only has advisory character, except in Costa Rica itself.

Title of the ruling

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (with a typo). ©corteidh.or.cr

The facts

During the presidential campaign of 2014 in Costa Rica, candidate Luis Guillermo Solís advocated for registered partnerships but not for same-sex marriage itself. In Costa Rica, stable same-sex couples (having been together for at least three years) had already had some financial and estate-related benefits since July 2013.

In May of 2016, president Luis Guillermo Solís submitted a formal request for more rights for LGBT people to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is based in San José, Costa Rica.

The ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The high court of the Organization of American States (OAS) only has an advisory function but ruled that same-sex couples must be treated exactly like heterosexual couples, i.e. without any discrimination, in part based on the fact that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights does not prescribe any family model in particular.

In its 145-pages ruling, the high court recommends that in the future, all states have to treat couples equally and independently of their sexual orientation. This not only applies to personal or marital status but to all human rights.

In particular, there may not be any difference between hetero- and homosexual partnerships or marriages, as is very clearly expressed below:

Extract of the ruling

A clear and concise statement. ©corteidh.or.cr

Each country involved has to guarantee this equality by law, and no religious or philosophic convictions may be taken into account.

Furthermore, the ruling specifies that sexual orientation and gender identity are part of the categories protected by the American Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits any discriminating treatment.

The court also recommends that any person has to have the right to have his or her gender changed on all official documents and papers without any legal procedures or costs.

A historic decision with consequences

President Solís welcomed the decision and declared that Costa Rica will soon implement all its requirements into national law.

As a matter of principle, this ruling applies to all OAS member states that have ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, i.e. about 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. This particularly excludes the USA, Canada and Venezuela.

As a result of the advisory status of the court, this ruling is not binding for the member states – except for Costa Rica where these rulings are valid automatically because the court is based there.

Same-sex marriage has only been legalized in four Latin-American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay) and some Mexican states (including Mexico City). Chile and Ecuador have implemented registered partnerships. Some other countries grant certain legal benefits for same-sex partners but no official partnership or marriage yet.

(Below is our update of January 18, 2018)

First gay wedding in Costa Rica

Most likely, Mario Arias (28) and Roberth Castillo (25) are the first gay couple to marry in Costa Rica heiratet. The wedding is scheduled for the day after tomorrow (Saturday, January 20) and will be concluded by a notary public. At this time, Roberth (who is Venezuelan) will have his administrative situation straightened out in Costa Rica. As there is no legitimate gay marriage in Venezuela yet, the situation would be much more difficult for Mario the other way around.

Mario and Roberth have lived together for two years now after meeting on the Internet in 2010 and seeing each other for the first time three years ago on the Caribbean island of Costa Rica, just off the Venezuelan shore.
Robeth then moved to Costa Rica in order to live with Mario. Robeth is a graphic artist, and Mario writes software.

Facebook page

A very special Facebook event (screenshot). 🙂

We assume that Roberth has designed the invitation shown here. As it looks, everyone is invited (minimum age 18 because alcohol will be served at the reception).

Wedding invitation by Roberth and Mario

A milestone in the LGBT history of Costa Rica.

After the first same-sex weddings, we will now have the first ones in Costa Rica. We wish our best of luck to all the new married couples.

Panama on its way to same-sex marriage

Isabel de Saint Malo, vice president and foreign minister of Panama, declared on January 16, 2018 that “the constitution of Panama [already] guarantees the principle of non-discrimination,” and that her country is ready to accept and implement the ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Panama is one of the countries that almost systematically recognize the decisions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Isabel de Saint Malo and Lorena Castillo (the head of state's wife) are well known for their commitment in favor of gay marriage.

As early as on January 9, the foreign minister forwarded the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to all government authorities but has not yet specified when and how the first same-sex weddings may take place in Panama. Very soon, as we hope…

Frank-S / MensGo

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