The Costa Rican Ombudswoman’s Office reported an increase in violence against members of Costa Rica’s LGBTI community following the Feb. 4 presidential elections, dominated by a debate over same-sex marriage.
“The Ombudswoman’s Office received information this week… about cases of verbal and physical aggression towards LGBTI people, with a disproportionate increase since Election Day,” the government entity stated in a news release Wednesday.
The statement indicated that the office had received reports from LGBTI people “who have felt fearful of exercising their political rights in the current climate,” and that gay rights activists have been subject to threats and aggressive acts.
The candidate who came out atop the field in the first round of the presidential election was the Pentecostal preacher and former legislator Fabricio Alvarado, who surged in the polls following a ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favor of marriage equality. Alvarado stated that if elected, he would withdraw Costa Rica from the San José-based court’s jurisdiction so the country would not be obliged to comply with the ruling.
Alvarado will face off for the presidency against the candidate who came in second on Feb. 4, Carlos Alvarado (no relation) of the Citizen Action Party.
According to the Ombudsman’s Office, “the country has become deeply polarized, and this tension has led to high levels of expressions of hate and violence, insult and exclusion.”
The institution has not received information about violence or discrimination based on religious beliefs, although it indicated it has observed expressions of religious intolerance on social media.