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San José prepares for annual LGBT pride parade

June 26, 2014

Rainbows, feathers and bears, oh my!

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folk and their allies will march down the Paseo Colón for San José’s annual pride parade, starting 10 a.m. Sunday. Vice President Ana Helena Chacón, a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage, will be the parade’s marshall.

The pride parade takes places this year following two historic acts in Costa Rica for the LGBT community. President Luis Guillermo Solís raised the rainbow flag at the Casa Presidencial, and the Costa Rican Social Security System extended public insurance benefits to same-sex couples for the first time ever. But the Diversity Movement, a LGBT rights advocacy group, has its eyes set on another brass ring: same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Embassy in San José’s chargé d’affaires, Gonzalo Gallegos, will also attend the parade, along with some mission employees.

“It’s an honor for us to be who we are and not feel discriminated against. We shouldn’t miss this opportunity to show the people of Costa Rica that we’re normal, socially responsible, equal, and that we deserve the same rights as the rest of the population,” Diversity Movement President Marco Castillo told The Tico Times in a telephone interview.

Castillo said organizers were hoping for over 14,000 supporters to come out Sunday and show their support for the LGBT community.

Marchers will have to vie for attention alongside Costa Rica’s first appearance in the knockout round against Greece at 2 p.m. Sunday. Organizers pushed up the start of the festivities to 10 a.m.

Castillo said that signatures would be collected for the Front for Equal Rights’ marriage equality bill, a popular initiative to remove a person’s gender or sex from the definition of marriage. Organizers have been collecting signatures from across the country since last year’s pride march. Castillo did not tell The Tico Times how many people have signed the petition.

The Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America released a survey in May reporting that 56.5 percent of Costa Ricans support legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

Four bills currently are pending in the Legislative Assembly to grant same-sex cohabitation rights, civil unions or marriage.

Castillo said the Diversity Movement would not turn down any extension of same-sex unions in Costa Rica, but he stressed that they would continue to push for same-sex marriage as their ultimate goal.

“If lawmakers pass another [same-sex union] bill we would accept it, but we will always fight for our own,” he added.

The Diversity Movement president said that an anti-discrimination bill as well as another bill recognizing transgender identity are among other legislative goals for the group.

The LGBT advocate said that despite positive signs of support from the executive branch, support for marriage equality and other equal rights for LGBT people have been weaker from the Legislative Assembly.

“As far as the executive branch is concerned we have high hopes that any changes will be positive,” Castillo said, referring to Solís’ decision to raise the rainbow flag at the Casa Presidencial and Vice President Chacón’s support for the movement.

“The Legislative Assembly, on the other hand, well, we still have some doubts. We haven’t been able to craft a majority in our favor,” Castillo said. “But we’re trying.”

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