In Costa Rica, the issue of same-sex relationships has been an active topic for the past several years, but little progress has been made in terms of establishing an official policy. In a country with Roman Catholicism as the official Constitutional religion and with a large majority conservative population, it has been a controversial topic with supporters and opponents on both sides of the issue.
After several attempts to bring the issue to the legislative level, the most recent proposal called Coexistence Societies, which can be read here in Spanish, does not seek to legalize same-sex marriage, but seeks to offer alternatives for these couples. The text is based on four basic points [es], which include hospital visitation rights, dividing of earned wealth, inheritance rights, and insurance options.
During the presidential campaign, Laura Chinchilla of the National Liberation Party (PLN), who was elected on February 7, 2010 promised to support same-sex unions as an alternative to marriage, as she expressed in this video [es]. However, shortly after she was elected and after meetings with Assembly deputies from the Christian-aligned parties and with Evangelical Christian leaders, she hardened her position towards the proposal of same-sex unions [es].
Reactions to this change in position by President-elect Chinchilla were quick. The blogger at Conejos Suicidas [es] writes:
Si le fue tan fácil cambiar de opinión en este tema, ¿qué tan firme y honesta resultará al tener que cumplir compromisos con fracciones y grupos de poder más fuertes?
Another strong critic on her change in position is the blogger known as El Chamuko, who writes on his blog Infierno en Costa Rica [es]:
Habló muy lindo Laurias, de que no hay que discriminar a los homosexuales y que hay que apoyar iniciativas diferentes al matrimonio para proteger los derechos de esta minoría. El proyecto de ley de uniones civiles entre homosexuales es una iniciativa DIFERENTE AL MATRIMONIO, pero ahora la marioneta cambia el discurso que se traía en campaña, solo por quedar bien con un par de fanáticos religiosos que no permiten pecadores en sus partidos, pero bien que apoyan a ex-convictos por pedofilia.
*Note: “Laurias” is a nickname that some bloggers gave to the elected president Laura Chinchilla, that combines her name with the surname of the outgoing president Oscar Arias, because she had his support during the campaign. She is also called Arias’ puppet because she will continue with the actual government policies.
There are citizen groups that have proposed holding a referendum to let the people decide whether or not to approve the Law of Coexistence Societies. This proposal to hold the referendum has outraged some bloggers and social sectors of the country, and even some Assembly deputies like Ana Helena Chacón (PUSC), Jose Merino (FA) and Carlos Gutierrez (ML), who have called for the law to be convened in an extraordinary session of the Legislative Assembly. Many feel that a referendum should not be held on a matter of Human Rights, which is what many proponents of the law feel is what at stake.
Jorge of the blog Terrorista Tercermundista [es] (Third World Terrorist) writes:
Dejar que la mayoría tome la decisión de si aceptar o no derechos básicos de una minoría en pleno año 2010, es insultar y escupir todas aquellas luchas que han librado los grupos siempre discriminados históricamente, y no solo me refiero a los homosexuales.
In the blog Club Sodoma [es], LGBT rights activist Willop writes:
¿Por qué debemos evitar el referéndum? Los derechos humanos fueron concebidos para respetarse y otorgársele a tod@s l@s ciudadan@s. Nuestro país consultaría si se da o no un derecho humano, eso debería ser inconcebible. Los derechos humanos no se consultan, se dan.
One suggestion for resolving this matter in the best possible manner is made by Cristian Cambronero on his blog Fusil de Chispas [es], who proposes:
¿Cuál es la alternativa al referendo? Simple: que el proyecto sea discutido en la Asamblea Legislativa, como corresponde, donde tras múltiples modificaciones ya cuenta con un apoyo expreso significativo.