UPDATE, May 16: Following a statement by the Episcopal Conference, protesting the decision of the TSE to allow citizens their name and the erroneous statement that the biological sex of people will no longer be recorded in the civil registry, the TSE assures that the civil registry will continue to record in their database the registered sex at birth.
Costa Rica’s Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) – supreme electoral court – has approved a resolution that will allow people to change the name they are registered with to go with their gender identity.
The decision by the country’s top authority for the civil register, means that the gender of a person is registered with at birth will no longer appear on the “cedula” the official identity document, following an opinion issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that Costa Rica in January that says the country should do whatever necessary to allow same-sex marriage.
However, TSE indicated that in relation to marriage between persons of the same sex, it is not up to the Civil Registry to authorize or not these unions, since their function in this area is only as a register; that is, it is not the Civil Registry’s to dictate guidelines for people authorized by the legal system to marry.
“This, in our legal system, can only be done by the Constitutional Court (which at this moment has several open files related to the matter) or the Legislative Assembly,” explained the TSE.
The position of the TSE is related to the statement made earlier this year by the Notaries Public, the legal group that registers marriages with the Civil Registry, that the law does not allow notaries to file same-sex marriages without a change to the existing laws.
The TSE assured that it will continue to receive applications for registration of marriages between persons of the same sex and if the document meets all the established requirements, a marginal annotation will be made in the marital status of the parties, but the registration of the marriage will not be effective.
“Once the regulation has been deleted (that is same-sex marriages are approved), the registration will have retroactive effects for the benefit of the parties,” the TSE said.
The TSE said Monday that the name and gender identity change will be accomplished through a simple and free procedure.
For its part, the Government assured through a press release that the Executive Power will respect the decision of the TSE and “will proceed to implement the actions required to adapt the regulatory framework of its competence and guarantee adequate respect for the identity of the gender.”
“The Executive Branch reaffirms the commitment of the State of Costa Rica to respect and protect the human rights of all persons without distinction and in good faith to abide by the resolutions issued by the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights.”
The reform by the TSE will come into force once it is published in La Gaceta, the official government newsletter. The TSE did not say when the notice will be published.