The Supreme Court of Costa Rica issued a 287-page ruling Wednesday declaring that the nation’s lawmakers had a deadline of 18 months to institute marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The 6-1 ruling, first issued in August but publicly released this week, states that the country’s ban on allowing same-sex couples to marry violates its constitution. If lawmakers do not make the correction for themselves by May 2020, the ban will cease to have legal effect. The ruling also addresses allowing transgender people to change their name to reflect their gender identity.
Back in January, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a sweeping decision to the same effect, impacting as many as 20 countries across Central and South America. The Court is based in Costa Rica, and the decision was a response to an inquiry from Costa Rica about whether it must extend property rights to same-sex couples.
Though Costa Rica declared it would comply with the Inter-American Court’s ruling, officials have been slow to take action, blaming the delay on how “complex” the law is. It could also be because 14 of the 57 seats in the legislature are held by anti-gay evangelicals.
Enrique Sanchez, the country’s first openly gay lawmaker, believes the delay has been intentional. Speaking with AFP reporters in August, he said he “did not believe the assembly would work out a law change between themselves,” the BBC noted.
In the meantime, same-sex couples are still being denied marriage licenses.
The Inter-American Court ruling also impacts a number of other Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. A group of about 80 LGBTQ migrants from these countries arrived at the U.S. border this week, fleeing violence and persecution by anti-LGBTQ gangs.