After a Ten-Year Struggle, Married Homosexual Couple Manages to Register Their Three Children in Costa Rica

Ana Isabel Sanz and Christine Unold achieved mutual recognition of their three children after a decade of legal and social struggles

Hombres agarrados de manos

The marriage of Ana Isabel Sanz and Christine Unold received great news this Wednesday, August 12th. The Civil Registry approved the legal recognition of their three children. This recognition comes just three months after the country lifted its prohibition of same-sex marriage, thereby enabling the same rights for sexually diverse married people.

Sanz added that the recognition of double motherhood represents the legal protection of their children “finally fulfilling the basic premise of this fundamental human right that was violated for many years in their case.”

The couple had exhausted all the procedures to try to register their children under co-parenting for 10 years; However, the legal prohibition that existed in Costa Rica to recognize marriages between people of the same sex prevented them from accessing the acceptance of the most fundamental family rights that they have required.

“This situation that we suffered for years, since in 2010 the Costa Rican State refused to recognize the original identity of our older children (already granted in their country of birth, Spain, and recognized in Switzerland by Christine’s nationality), violated their family identity and placed us (in Costa Rica) under a situation of total vulnerability and defenselessness, since we did not have the most basic protection tools, such as custody of children in the event of the death by one of us, their mothers,” explained Sanz.

Sanz and Unold had married in Europe, where they lived together in Switzerland and Spain. They had their children by artificial insemination in the second country, where they were registered with both surnames, according to local laws. The names of the children are not mentioned, as Sanz indicated that they would prefer to avoid exposing their children, minors, with the dissemination of this news.
Both mothers worked as activists for the recognition of the rights of homoparental families in the country and founded the “Asociación Familias Homoparentales y Diversas de Costa Rica”, in June 2012.

According to Ana Isabel, president of the association, their struggle for the recognition of their family rights, despite the never-ending legal and social conflicts. “Going back to Spain or Switzerland could have been probably the easiest way, but it was not the right one. It is not about running away when things get uphill, it is about contributing to transform our reality in a positive way, recognizing the family diversity of the inhabitants, to promote the civic values of respect and peaceful coexistence, to understand that we can get along and all contribute to the progress of Costa Rica by contributing all equally, without leaving anyone behind, “she concluded.

The change in the regulation represented the dream for both mothers. According to Sanz, her first words after the registration of his children were precisely those: “We are going to be able to sleep.” That was what they told Luis Guillermo Chinchilla, the senior official of the Civil Registry.

Change of rules
The rules for the registration of children changed since June 16th, when the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) reported it. Since then, the Civil Registry generated the mechanisms to assign the correct surnames and real rights to people in homoparental families.

e TSE defined that the members of each (any) couple could assume legal responsibility for their children and choose the order of the surnames they would bear; as long as said distribution had not been defined in the middle of the adoption process, “in which case the order will be determined by the administrative act or sentence that approves it”. In the event that homosexual couples decide to procreate their children in a biological way, the legal procedure would vary in the case of women and in the case of men; since in the first, co-maternity would be assigned from birth and in the second, an adoption process would be required, since there would be a mother who would have to give up her rights.
The differentiated treatment, however, was put to the consultation of the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) by the TSE, with the aim of determining whether it is feasible to apply a more expeditious process in such cases.

This treatment is based on the principle of “presumption”, used by the registry authorities when they assume that a newborn person is the daughter or son of a specific marriage.

The TSE also indicated that it would process to recognize the registrations of sons and daughters that homosexual couples that had been done abroad. With this, the same affiliation data would be applied on national soil.

The only figure that could not be recognized as part of a homosexual couple would be the one involving extramarital children, since “the only way in which co-parents can be registered in the case of children of unmarried homosexual couples would be through adoption” explained the TSE.

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