San Jose – After meeting with members of the LGBT groups, the minister of the presidency, Carlos Benavidades, has reaffirmed that the government is committed to approving Gay Civil Unions, a project that will grant same sex couples basic legal rights.

The project is scheduled to be discussed in Congress in the following days. However, Benavides was very clear to say that, while the government acknowledges that gay rights in Costa Rica must be recognized, it is not willing to modify the country’s family code to allow gay marriage, let alone gay adoption.

Still, members of the gay community are satisfied with the government’s willingness to approve gay civil unions and finally grant greater rights for same sex couples. They hope the project is approved before the end of Chinchilla’s administration.

The Gay Civil Unions bill was first introduced in 2006 and it was met with strong opposition and protest. The Supreme Court ruled against it stating that it was not required by the country’s constitution to recognize same sex marriage in the family code. Nevertheless, the court stated that the government had the power to enact civil unions.

Later that year, the Diversity Movement of Costa Rica decided to present the bill again, but leaving out issues such as gay marriage and gay adoption. Instead, the bill was aimed at ensuring equal legal rights for gay couples such as access to social security, access to credit, and the right to inherit, among others. However, the bill was not giving priority.

The issue of recognizing same sex unions raised strong controversy again this year after Christian deputy Justo Orozco was elected President of the Human Rights Commission, as the result of a logrolling deal between Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) and Partido Renovacion Costarricense (PRC).

Prior to his election, Orozco went on national television to say that homosexuality was a sin and that approving gay civil unions would lead to the destruction of Costa Rican society. His statements created quite a stir among citizens and residents, both gay and straight.

When questioned about his homophobic comments and remarks, Orozco stated that his religious views will not affect his work as President of the Human Rights Commission and that he was willing to meet with gay groups to reach an agreement. Yet, he voted against the Gay Civil Union bill during his first day of work.

As a result, gay advocates have been putting pressure on politicians to approve the bill by organizing gay marches and campaigns. Furthermore, the Diversity Movement filed a formal complaint before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which may penalize Costa Rica if the government refuses to pass legislation on gay civil unions.

It seems that all efforts have paid off and that the government has finally understood that gays and lesbians are no less Costa Rican than the rest of citizens.
Only time will tell if the government will come through with its promise.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica