Tens of thousands in Costa Rican took part in the Marcha de la Diversidad (Gay Pride) on Sunday in downtown San Jose, filling Costa Rica’s capital city with color, in the first such march since the country’s constitutional court promised same-sex couples the right to marry starting next year.

The court voted last August to legalize gay marriage and said later the ruling would take effect in May 2020, making Costa Rica the first country in Central America to recognize that right.

“Ten years ago, there were about 20 people who received insults and now we are more than 100,000 proud of what we are and what we have achieved,” said Nisa Sanz, who got married in Spain to a Swiss woman with whom she has three children. “I never imagined it that way.”

 

The activity, commemorating the events that occurred 49 years ago, in New York on June 28, 1969, started a little past midday between floats, music, comparsas and banners calling for equal rights, respect and acceptance of other ways of feeling love in reference to the LGBTI community (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersex).

Some 100,000, including whole families, men, and women, that included Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado and First Lady Claudia Dobles, took part in the event, calling for respect, equality and love for all individuals.

A year ago, in the 2018 edition, President Alvarado apologized to the LGBTI community, on behalf of the Costa Rican State for the persecution they were subjected to in the past.

According to Alvarado, in Costa Rica, history has not been different from the repression suffered by lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, and intersexuals in the United States. The president recalled that, in 1969, homosexuality was a criminal offense and persecuted in Costa Rica.

Legalizing gay marriage was a major campaign promise by President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who took office in May 2018.

Today, the caravan moved from Paseo Colon on the west side of San Jose onto Avenida Segunda to the Plaza de la Democracia, on the east, in an environment where families, couples and even some diplomatic delegations (Holland, Mexico, Canada, United States, among others) and national political authorities converged.

Bishop Gilberto Quesada, president of the Iglesia Luterana Costarricense (ILCO) and members of the Lutheran Church of Costa Rica, also attended the march organized by March for Diversity, as did activists from neighboring Nicaragua who hoped their government would follow suit.

“This is progress,” said Luis Salazar, government representative for sexually diverse community affairs. “But nothing is more valuable than seeing more people from the community here with their friends and family.”