(QCOSTARICA) Marriages between people of the same sex can become legal in Costa Rica starting on May 26, when the Civil Registry will begin to process the registration of these unions.
Luis Guillermo Chinchilla, senior civil officer of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE), to which the Civil Registry is attached, assured that the necessary changes have been made.
“The Civil Registry has made significant efforts in adjusting all the computer systems in civil registry matters, with the purpose of managing these registrations in a timely and expeditious manner, always within the framework of suitable and effective registry security as usual by our institution,” said Chinchilla.
This entity is the one that records and makes official vital and civil status acts such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces.
Two decisions are what will make it possible for homosexual couples to marry in Costa Rica.
The first is the opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), released in January 2018, which ordered the State of Costa Rica to recognize the rights of the sexually diverse population.
“The State must recognize and guarantee all the rights that derive from a family bond between persons of the same sex in accordance with the provisions of Articles 11.2 and 17.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights and in the terms established in paragraphs 200 at 218,” said the international tribunal based in San Jose, Costa Rica.
However, to comply with the IACHR decision, a ruling from Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court was required. The court resolved on August 8, 2018, against subsection 6 of article 14 of the Family Code, which, expressly, prohibits same-sex marriage.
In its resolution, the Court granted the Legislative Assembly 18 months, running from November 26, 2018, to legislate same-sex marriage in Costa Rica; failing it would automatically permit same-sex marriages.
Legalizing gay marriage was a major campaign promise by President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who took office in May 2018.
“I have coordinated with Imprenta Nacional (national printer) the resolution on equal marriage of the Constitutional Court that will be published in the Judicial Bulletin No. 219 of Monday, November 26 of this year. It is only a matter of time before full equality of rights becomes a reality,” President Carlos Alvarado announced at the time in a Tweet.
This May 26, precisely, the deadline will expire without Congress having made any legal modification, which will automatically enable the registration of same-sex marriages.
On Tuesday, May 5, according to data from the Civil Registry, there were 54 registration requests pending, that is, same-sex marriages made by notaries, but which have not yet been able to be registered.
“As in any marriage registration process, said analysis involves a study regarding its compliance with current regulations, related to freedom of state and legal impediments that spouses may have. Once this stage has been completed, the corresponding registration will be carried out, a fact that can take between 10 and 15 business days,” Chinchilla explained.
The particular circumstances of the covid-19 pandemic facing the country will not represent any delay so that the pending actions can be carried out, confirmed the official.
“The sanitary restrictions that the TSE has adopted in response to the guidelines that the Ministry of Health has issued on this matter, will have the same effect on the presentation of these marriages for their registration as on the registration of any other marriage and that it has to do with the regulated access controls to our facilities to avoid crowds ”, he specified.
Notaries who have carried out marriages between people of the same sex without the ban having yet been lifted, could be exposed to an investigation by the Notary Court. Civil Registry data indicates that as of this Wednesday, 15 names of notaries who had made these unions have been sent to the National Directorate of Notaries (DNN).
The number of notaries does not coincide with the number of marriages pending registration because some professionals made took part in multiple marriages.
Notaries could face suspension, as in the case of notary Marco Castillo, suspended for 13 years, after he married Jazmín Elizondo Arias and Laura Flórez-Estrada in July 2015.
Three months after that marriage between women, the notary managed to register it in the Civil Registry due to an error, since one of the contracting parties appeared in the public record to be male.
Following, a series of processes were initiated to annul the registration of the marriage, and sanction those involved.
The criminal case against the notary did not prosper after the opinion of the Inter-American Court and the decision of Sala IV (Constitutional Court) that allowed gay marriages were issued.