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Costa Rica government to prioritize bill legalizing gay civil unions

March 18, 2015

Casa Presidencial announced Wednesday that it would prioritize a bill legalizing common law marriage, and another providing other legal protections for lesbian and gays couples. The announcement followed a meeting with LGBT activists who requested action from the Presidency Ministry on the long-delayed bills.

Despite the announcement, the current administration has said it does not support same-sex marriage.

The move would place the bills toward the top of the Legislative Assembly’s priority list. The president’s office has said it will move up the bills by the end of the week, but even that is no guarantee that there will be discussion on them before the extraordinary session closes at the end of April.

The common law marriage and co-habitation bills would allow same-sex couples some of the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, including a legally-recognized relationship and inheritance rights, among others. Neither bill would allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Presidency Vice Minister Ana Gabriel Zuñiga said her office was working to secure support for the bills in the legislature. She said the co-habitation bill was currently under consideration in the legal matters subcommittee. She did not specify the status of the second bill, which would reform the country’s family law code.

Zuñiga clarified that the Solís administration does not support same-sex marriage. The vice minister said that there was no intention at this point to support a bill presented by Broad Front lawmaker Ligia Fallas to legalize gay marriage.

Fallas’ bill would allow same-sex couples to legally marry, adopt and choose which surname their child would take.

Marco Castillo, president of the LGBT advocacy group Diversity Movement, called the administration’s announcement Wednesday a step forward for LGBT rights in Costa Rica, even if full marriage was not on the table.

Castillo said his group was uncertain whether the bill would have the necessary votes to pass.

“We ask all who support human rights to give us their support in this fight for the rights of same-sex couples,” Castillo said.

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