On May 26, Costa Rica became the sixth country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, after Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, and some parts of Mexico. On Twitter, people began counting down the hours until midnight before filling social media with celebratory messages and photos of happy couples.
The road to same-sex marriage has not been easy for this traditionally conservative and religious country. However, this took a turn in 2018 when the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued an opinion, on Costa Rica's demand, on gender identity and equality for same-sex couples. Later that year, Costa Rica's Constitutional Court followed the international court's lead and ruled 18 months for the Costa Rican parliament to legislate on this issue or let the ban on same-sex marriage, which was enshrined in the country's Family Code, dissolve automatically on May 26. That same year Costa Ricans voted for Carlos Alvaro Alvarado Quesada, a candidate who supports same-sex marriage, instead of his conservative evangelical rival, Fabricio Alvarado. In early May 2020, conservative lawmakers tried to delay the ruling by 18 months but ultimately failed to pass their motion.
This law is a first in Central America, a region where LGBTQ+ people frequently flee due to violence and discrimination. In El Salvador, for example, 600 members of the LGBTQ+ community have been killed between 1993 and 2017, according to State figures. Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have also been registered in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. Even though Costa Rica has a lower homicide rate than its northern neighbors, there have been spikes of aggression, sometimes lethal, because of people's sexual orientation. That is why Costa Rica's new law also sparked fellow Central Americans to tweet joyful congratulations (and admit a pinch of envy) of their neighbor's legislative strides.
The two first legally-wed couples
The first wedding was between Alexandra Quirūs and Dunia Araya under social distancing rules. At midnight on May 26, nearly 20,000 people watched them tie the knot before their lawyer on Facebook live, and more watched on television. Around 50 more weddings have been planned at the Civil Registry for weeks.
After her wedding, Araya told BBC:
“Con la entrada en vigencia de la ley, ojalá que quienes siguen luchando en la región centroamericana, e inclusive a nivel mundial, tomen la inspiración y el ejemplo no de nuestro matrimonio, sino de Costa Rica, que ha dado ese paso importante.”
“With the entry into force of the law, hopefully, those who continue to struggle in Central America, and even globally, will be inspired and take the example not from our marriage, but from Costa Rica, which has taken that important step.”
A las 00:01 del 26 de mayo se ha celebrado la primera boda LGBT en Costa Rica, ha sido retransmitida en directo por la televisión del pais 🇨🇷♥️🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/Ylj5cG6HxQ
— Igualdad LGBT 🏳️🌈 (@IgualdadLGBT) May 26, 2020
At 00:01 on May 26, the first LGBT wedding in Costa Rica was held, and was broadcast live on the country's television 🇨🇷❤🏳️🌈
The morning after, a second wedding was also live-streamed. This time, longstanding activist Marco Castillo married Rodrigo Campos. Two days later, judge Francis Porras León tried to annul their marriage and failed.
Ayer. Primer matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo realizado en un juzgado de familia. Un acto simple pero con un enorme peso simbólico. Agradecido de haber sido testigo del principio del cambio. #diversidad #MatrimonioIgualitarioCR pic.twitter.com/uZriGCKqdK
— JP Monge (@jpmonge_photo) May 27, 2020
Yesterday. The first wedding of people of the same sex before a family court. A simple act but with a huge symbolic weight. I am grateful of being a witness of the start of change. #diversity #marriageequalityCR
An online celebration
Due to social distancing measures in the context of COVID-19, celebrations happened online under the hashtag #SiAceptoCR (#YesIAcceptCR). Couples shared photos of themselves on Twitter.
— Dani Garita Rovira❤🧡💛💚💙💜 (@96Garita) May 26, 2020
Today May 26 is a huge step for Costa Rica.
Today May 26 is a day less for our goal.
🖤❤️💛💚💙💜 #lovewins #marriageequalityCR #yesIacceptCR
This Twitter user explains how he thought of leaving Costa Rica because of the lack of LGBTQ+ civil rights.
Hace años pensaba en que si llegaba el día, jamás sería algo que podría hacer en mi país. Que tendría que irme a hacer mi vida en otro lugar con más opciones. Hoy agradezco que es una posibilidad en Costa Rica. 🏳️🌈 #SiAceptoCR @LeChikitico pic.twitter.com/srs1I2q6kV
— Gian Ca Restani (@GianCaRestani) May 26, 2020
For years that I thought that if the day arrived, I could never be able to do it in my country. That I would have to leave and build my life in a place with more options. Today I am grateful that it's a possibility in Costa Rica. 🏳️🌈 #YesIAcceptCR
More couples celebrated online:
🏳️🌈 Hoy celebramos la igualdad y el amor! @kingdobleq 💕
Costa Rica dijo “Si, acepto” al matrimonio igualitario! 🇨🇷#SiAceptoCR #MatrimonioIgualitarioCR #Equality #LoveIsLove #MatrimonioIgualitario #LoveWins 💖 pic.twitter.com/2bAFOe4H82
— Bryan (@Bryanshortstuff) May 26, 2020
🏳️🌈 Today we celebrate equality and love! @kingdobleq 💕
Costa Rica said “Yes, I accept” marriage equality! #YesIAcceptCR #MarriageEqualityCR #Equality #LoveIsLove #MarriageEquality #LoveWins 💖
Hoy aunque no estamos físicamente juntos, celebramos porque al fin el amor de "a escondidas" legalmente puede ser gritado a los 4 vientos por amor es amor. #SiAceptoCR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜 pic.twitter.com/mjsGNyd1V5
— BAZINGA 🤓 (@Rob13sc) May 26, 2020
Even if we are not physically together, we celebrate because finally the “secret” love can legally be screamed from the hilltops because love is love. #YesIAcceptCR ❤️💛💚💙💜
— Fabián Solano (@FabianSolanoCR) May 26, 2020
Dieguito, Oliver and I are super ready for the #MarriageEquality #MarriageEqualityCR #lovewins