Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Costa Rica: Supreme Court to determine constitutionality of marriage for same-sex couples

Last week, La Prensa Grafica reported on little-opposed legislative efforts to amend El Salvador's Constitution to ban marriage rights for same-sex couples as well as adoption rights for gays.

Today comes word that another Central American country, Costa Rica, is looking at marriage rights for same sex couples from another angle:

Diario Extra reports that the 7-member Constitutional Court [Costa Rica's Supreme Court] will be having a public hearing on Thursday, May 4th, to determine whether a petition to "eliminate state prohibition of recognition of marriage between gays, as it stands in the family code" can move forward or is unconstitutional.

The hearing comes almost three years after attorney Yashin Castrillo (pictured above) filed an "action of unconstitutionality" on July 30th of 2003 challenging the ban against marriage rights for same-sex couples. Mr. Castrillo is expected to argue in favor of removing the ban along with representatives of organizations supporting the constitutional challenge. He tells Diario Extra that the ban signifies a loss of liberty and a violation of equality which "...contradicts a democratic regime."

"To impose a sense of 'normalcy' on a society with the obligation of a matrimonial union [which is] exclusively between persons of different gender," he ads, "gravely injures the dignity of the person [by] failing to recognize his/her self-determination and his/her liberty to make a decision."

Costa Rica's General Attorney's office will be arguing against Mr. Castrillo's motion and have already stated that the family code, as it stands, does not discriminate against anyone or create inrqualities. According to Diario Extra, in a report filed September 6, 2003, they argue that "matrimony comes from Christian principles adopted by the gospel and apostolic doctrine, establishing monogamous matrimony between a woman and a man."

They have also indicated that they will question whether the constitutional court has the right to conduct a hearing on the issue and argue that "...a Constituent National Assembly is the only one with the means to challenge these limitations."

A 2003 Miami Herald article on the recognition of the rights of same-sex couples throughout Latin America, says that the ban on marriages for same-sex couples in Costa Rica actually has a sentence of up to three years in prison for anyone who violates it.

In a 2003 Teletica debate on the issue Mr. Castrillo said that no human being should be denied the right to partner with a loved one, much less under penalty of law, and that he is not advocating for religious matrimony but, simply, for the right of same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights afforded to couples of different gender, call it marriage, civil union or something else.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting story. Thanks, Andres!