Same Sex Marriage in Costa Rica
Does Costa Rica allow same sex marriage ¿ To answer that question we have to start with article 14 section 6 of the Costa Rican Family Law Code of 1974 which states as follows:
Article 14. A marriage is legally impossible….. (6) between persons of the same sex.
So based on current law the answer to the question is that same sex marriage is not allowed in Costa Rica.
However, the government of Luis Guillermo Solis a member of the Citizens Action Party (PAC) campaigned on promises of gender equality and they petitioned on behalf of the Republic of Costa Rica to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights for a legal opinion on this issues. The government of Costa Rica petitioned the Court for an advisory opinion so that the Court could address three specific questions related to the protection provided by the Convention on Human Rights as follows:
- Does the convention on human rights protect the recognition of a change of name for those persons change their gender.
- Does the convention on human rights offer protection and recognition of the rights derived from the link between persons of the same sex.
The Interamerican Court of Human Rights issued its advisory opinion (OC-24/17) on November 24 of 2017 (full text below in Spanish) and it found that Costa Rica had an obligation to extend the protection of the convention of human rights to same sex couples and not discriminate against them.
Does this mean that same sex marriage in Costa Rica is now legal – No. This is an advisory opinion and the reality is that it would require a legislative act to change Article 14 section 6 of the Costa Rican Family Code to legalize same sex marriage.
In Costa Rica a licensed Notary Public is the authority that may perform marriage ceremonies and record marriages in the Costa Rica Civil Registry. Given the advisory opinion of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights the National Notary Council (Consejo Superior Notarial) rushed to issue a directive to the licensed Notaries of Costa Rica. Pursuant to agreement 2018-002-024 has stated and order the following: “ Until there is a legal legislative reform or there is legally binding constitutional court order the rules and norms established for marriage in Costa Rica pursuant to article 14 section 6 of the Family Code are in full effect. As such, Notary Public’s are instructed to adhere to the law.. “ (full text below in Spanish)
In essence they are warning licensed notaries that carrying out a same sex marriage is a violation of the law and that they will be sanctioned for it. The advisotry opinion of the Interamerican court of human rights has created a lot of discussion about the issue of same sex marriage in Costa Rica. Since we are in an election year it is an issue that will most likely be addressed by a new government in 2018.
Below is the ruling of the Costa Rican Notary Council: