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‘Clerical error’ allows for same-sex couple to be wed in Costa Rica

February 19, 2019

The Costa Rican prosecutor’s office on Tuesday refused to indict a lesbian couple who took advantage of a clerical error and were married in 2015, the court said.

The Public Ministry asked the court to order a final dismissal in favor of Laura Florez-Estrada, Jasmine Elizondo and her lawyer Marco Castillo, who had been charged with the crime of illegal marriage, which carries a penalty of up to six years in prison.

The two women were able to get married thanks to a registration error, in which Elizondo had mistakenly been listed on her birth records as a man.

The prosecution amended its criteria in light of an advisory opinion issued in January 2017 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which stated that sexually diverse couples have the same marital rights as a heterosexual couple.

The Costa Rican Constitutional Chamber subsequently ruled that the Inter-American Court’s decision is binding in the Central American country, overturning an article in the Family Code that prohibits same-sex marriage.

The high court gave Parliament a period of 18 months from the publication of the ruling to amend the Family Code if it so desires. If not, same-sex marriage will be legalized.

“It takes a great burden off us; this is another step to recognize that we are all equal,” Elizondo told reporters after hearing the decision.


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