Gay Marriage in Costa Rica
A judge of the Family Court of Costa Rica has recently granted a petition filed by a gay couple to recognize their union using the Costa Rican implied marriage law (Union de Hecho) in conjunction with an interpretation of the General Law for Young Persons (Ley General de Personas Jovenes) which only applies to individuals aged 12 to 35.
What was the basis of the ruling ?
The Costa Rican implied marriage law (Article 242 of the Family Code) has been in existence since 1995 however it had not been applied to gay couples because Article 12 section 6 of the Family Code indicates that it is legally impossible to recognize the marriage between individuals of the same sex. Also Article 242 itself indicates that the implied marriage can occur exclusively between and man and a women with the legal capacity to enter into a marriage.
The judge in applying his ruling relied on a modification made in 2013 to the General Law for Young Persons (Law 9155) which includes a disposition that states as follows:
Article 4. The rights of young persons
…. h) The right not to be discriminated against on account of color, national origin, belonging to a national minority, ethnic or cultural minority or based on sex, sexual orientation, language or religiont.
…..m) The right to the recognition without discrimination contrary to human dignity, of the social and financial benefits of the implied marriage which is formed in a public, notorious, unique and stable manner and with the legal capacity for marriage for a term of more than 3 years.”
They key factor in this legislation was the addition of the words no discrimination based on sexual orientation and then the addition that implied marriage will be applied without discrimination.
There is a bill in the legislature which if it passes would legalize civil unions between persons of the same sex. In the meantime Costa Rican society and legal scholars are discussing the findings of the Judge that recognized the implied marriage of a gay couple and the issue is far from settled yet.