Costa Rica President will sign accidental Civil Unions bill

Timothy Kincaid

July 4th, 2013

Tico Times:

After legislators “accidentally” passed a law that includes language that could open a path to same-sex civil unions in the Central American country, President Laura Chinchilla said on Wednesday that she would not veto it, as some lawmakers have urged.

“No, we’re going to go forward and will sign this law. We understand that the debate is over how some interpret the law and this alone is not sufficient for the executive to veto the law,” Chinchilla told reporters, according to a video posted by

There will likely be a court challenge to the meaning of the bill, but it looks promising. Prior to this legislation, the law stated that common law marriage was only between a man and a woman. This struck that provision, replacing it with “without discrimination against to human dignity”.


July 4th, 2013

This would be a bizarre surprise after reading her wikipedia bio. Then again its citations are either dead links or don’t actually mention her, so it’s possible someone made it up and added links that didn’t actually mention her to cite it.


July 4th, 2013

They can also easily pass another law to repeal this.


July 5th, 2013

@ Steve, that depends on the Costa Rican constitution. If there is any clause that prevents the government from taking away rights from citizens, they’ll be unable to repeal the law without first changing the constitution.

It’s also possible that, if they did manage to repeal the law, the Costa Rican government could be taken to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (based in Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose) under Articles 5.2, 17.2, 24, and 29.a of the American Convention on Human Rights. If the court makes a broad ruling this could result in gay marriage becoming legal in all but a handful of American countries south of the USA. One of the deciding factors will be how much support there will be amongst the peoples and governments, so the number and size of the nations and sub-national jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal becomes critical.

Europe gives a good example of why. A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights several years ago made it clear that the court won’t legalise gay marriage continent-wide until there is a clear majority consensus. This point has not yet been reached, and although it looks as if we’re close there’s quite a long way to go yet. Most western bloc nations have either legalised already or are expected to do so within the next few years, and the handful of eastern bloc states that could legalise soon would mean that at best there will be ~350 to ~370 million living in countries with equal marriage by 2020, less than half the population (~800 million). The current situation in Turkey has changed things, and if the anti-government coalition holds and forces the kind of changes they’re demanding then Turkey could conceivably become the tipping point at which the ECHR will legalise. But that’s a long-shot, and if it doesn’t happen then it could be several decades before the ECHR legalises gay marriage throughout Europe.

By contrast, for the IACHR the tipping point is much closer and may already have been passed. Of the largest six nations subject to IACHR rulings, two have gay marriage nationwide (Brazil & Argentina) court rulings are likely to make it legal within the next few months or years in two more (Mexico & Colombia) and legalisation is being discussed by the governments of the last two (Peru & Chile). Between them those six countries account for ~450 million people, out of (at a guess) ~525 million, or ~85% of the total population, so legalisation of gay marriage throughout the region is entirely possible by the end of the decade.

It’s worth remembering that the jurisdictions of both courts include countries notorious for violent homophobia, such as Jamaica, Russia and Lithuania.

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