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‘Costa Rica recognizes the rights you always deserved’: President Alvarado’s message on marriage equality

Costa Rica now recognizes marriage equality after a modification to the country’s Family Code on Tuesday.

President Carlos Alvarado, who during his 2018 campaign promised Costa Rica would abide by an Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling to legalize same-sex marriage, addressed the nation in a lengthy video published Monday night.

Watch the video in its entirety below, and scroll down for an English translation of the speech:

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On Tuesday, May 26, Costa Rica will recognize the right of people to a civil marriage with another of the same sex, in strict accordance with the ruling of the Constitutional Chamber and an opinion from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In doing so, our country becomes the first in all of Central America, and the 29th globally, where these types of unions are recognized.

As President, my job is not only to defend the Constitution and the country, but also human rights like the expression of liberty, self-determination, and human dignity.

Our duty is to combat all types of discrimination, whether due to disability, ethnicity, culture, religious creed, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation or any other.

With that focus on protecting all human rights is from where we must understand this milestone.

The modification that comes into effect eliminates five words in one law. However, this change will bring about a significant social and cultural transformation in the country.

It allows thousands of people to marry in front of a lawyer to recognize a couple’s rights such as inheritances, pensions, medical decisions and others. The people who will be able to access this right are not strangers. They are sons, daughters, friends, family, colleagues and coworkers.

They are people who, when they decide to get married, will do so for love, stability and because they have a vision for the future. They have the same motivations that anyone could have.

They do not seek to disrespect, nor to attack any personal belief. They search only for the understanding and dignity that everyone deserves, no matter who they are or who they love.

As Costa Ricans, we should not be strangers to ourselves. I am aware that an important sector of the population disagrees with this legal change. To all those people I want to say that despite the differences we may have on this issue, we are still the same nation and must walk united.

To the LGBTQ community, whose rights will be recognized, I reiterate my ongoing compromise. Over decades you were offended, humiliated, persecuted, but you never gave up the fight. You persisted with pride and determination. You did so with the three unstoppable forces and allies that should guide the 21st century: Liberty, equality, and democratic institutions.

Thanks to your work over decades, Costa Rica recognizes the rights you always deserved and returns a little of the liberty that so often was limited. You, your partners, your families, your children will have the same rights as any other person, couple or family in this country.

The last months have been tremendously difficult for our country, but they have reminded us how when we work together and put aside our differences, Costa Rica can be an extraordinary country. That same spirit should continue to guide us today and in the months to come, remembering that we are — without discrimination — brothers and sisters, united under one flag.

I’m aware that we need to construct a respectful coexistence beyond this legal change. It won’t be easy, but I trust in us. As President, I am sure that we will understand each other as a diverse and united Costa Rica, where we all fit, and where empathy and love are the compass that helps us come out ahead as a country.

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