Costa Rica recognises first same-sex marriage in Central America

Panama City, June 3 (IANS/EFE) For the first time in the history of Central America, a family court in Costa Rica has recognised a civil union between a same-sex couple thus opening the doors for economic rights for such couples.

The two-year-long legal battle of Gerald Castor and Cristian Zamora, who have been living together for 12 years, for their domestic partnership to be recognised seems to have borne fruit with a court in San Jose on Tuesday giving its approval to the union.

The couple based their case on the General Law on the Young Person that came into effect in 2013 and recognises “the right to recognition without discrimination contrary to human dignity, social and economic effects of domestic partnerships that constitute publicly, notoriously unique and stable”.

This decision paves the way for the couple to enjoy economic rights in regards to inheritance, pensions, hospital visits, division of assets in case of separation, and others.

The Castro-Zamora case also sets a precedent in the Central American region where the laws of most countries, including Costa Rica, do not recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages.

On Tuesday, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo declared his intention to continue pushing a bill to legalise same-sex unions, one of his electoral promises.

Guatemalan laws neither recognise same-sex civil unions and marriages nor allow them similar to Nicaragua where the Family Code, that came into effect on April 8, rejects same-sex couples and families.

The former El Salvadoran legislature too approved a package of constitutional reforms on April 16 without amending the clause that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The reform included a bill banning same-sex couples from adopting children which now awaits approval by the new legislature.

Honduran laws’ rejection of same-sex unions finds echo in Catholic and evangelical churches in the country.

Although Panama came close to opening the door for same-sex unions in May 2014 in the form of a bill presented by Minister of Government Jorge Ricardo Fabrega that recognised same-sex marriages conducted abroad, the bill was retracted by Ricardo himself two days later due to pressure from Catholic and evangelical churches.

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