A couple thousand people in San José demanded equal rights in Costa Rica for issues such as homosexual rights, the establishment of a secular state, the approval of in vitro fertilization and immigrant rights – in a movement called “Marcha de los Invisibles” (“March of the Invisibles”).
A diverse crowd, which included LGBT community members, heterosexual couples, and indigenous rights supporters – marched through the capital Saturday morning to the Legislative Assembly. Two weeks ago, a human rights committee in the assembly rejected a bill that guaranteed economic rights to heterosexual couples. Protesters waved signs calling for respect. Leaders of the march shouted chants through megaphones.
“Morality is personal, human rights are universal.” read a colorful banner carried by the demonstrators. Local police monitoring the event said some 2,000 people attended the rally, although organizers said the number was closer to 5,000.
The protest was called in retaliation for the Human Rights Commission vote. Marchers called for the ouster of evangelical legislator Justo Orozco, the head of the commission, whose statements against homosexual rights have caused a stir in the country.
“INJusto [Unfair] Orozco, caveman,” “The problem is not God, it’s Justo.” “Invisible no, here I am,” “I am visible, I have rights.” “We are happy lesbians, and we are here. “Gay, 100 percent human,” read some of the signs.
One of the directors of the march, from a megaphone, shouted “Costa Rica is one of the last confessional states in the world. What an anachronism – I demand a secular state.”
While common in the Middle East, countries with an official state religion almost have disappeared from the western hemisphere, although Costa Rica remains a Catholic country.
“We are here so that they know that we exist, that we deserve the same rights,” said marcher Ester Molina. “In the country, there is a decline in human rights.”
Lawmakers Carlos Gómgora, Carmen Muñoz and Manuel Monestel joined the movement. They helped scrub the walls of the Legislative Assembly with sponges and soap as marchers chanted about the alleged dirtiness and corruption taking place inside the assembly.
Online social networks sparked the movement, almost 15,000 people signed a petition online called FueraJustoOrozco.com. Protesters want Orozco to resign after he referred to homosexuality as a “strange practice” and called it “a sin that has a cure.”
Sexual Diversity Movement President Marco Castillo announced that his organization will report Costa Rica to the international human rights commission for what he considers an “insult” to the rights of the gay community.
Orozco also said that he opposes in vitro fertilization – Costa Rica is the only western hemisphere country to prohibit the practice. The legislator said that only high-income individuals would benefit from the technique because infertility is a problem “suffered by the upper class.”
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, with its headquarters in San José, will analyze a complaint in September about the prohibition of in vitro fertilization. Costa Rica could face fines for not legalizing the in vitro, which is considered a human rights violation.
Who are the Invisibles? Learn more about the people asking for change in Costa Rica in this Friday’s edition of The Tico Times.