By María Consuelo Solórzano - International Relations student
According to the article titled “The Road to Equality for LGBTI People in Costa Rica”, published in the news site called “Latino USA”, Nisa Sanz, who is an activist of Homoparental and Diverse Families of Costa Rica, “married a woman (..) and had three kids with her in Madrid, but in Costa Rica, her birthland, they are not recognized as a family” (Márquez, 2019, para. 7). Now, how has Costa Rica evolved in the acceptance of the LGTBQ+ rights? What changes does the government of the actual president, Carlos Alvarado, make with the legalization of same-sex marriage?
As stated by the article published in the international news channel, titled “Costa Rica passes decrees boosting LGBT rights”, in the year 2018, Alvarado emitted important declarations that in some way represent Costa Rica’s current government point of view regarding the rights of the LGTBQ+ community. "We are recognizing that there are some rights enjoyed by the majority of the population, while others don't enjoy those rights," said Alvarado” (24 France, 2018, para. 5). “[The measures] will allow same-sex couples to receive an allowance for housing that is given to low-income families, recognizes mixed nationality homosexual couples and extends the recognition of gender identity to migrants, amongst others.” (24 France, 2018, para. 2).
As it may be inferred, Costa Rica’s LGTBQ+ community faced an important dimension of inequality and inclusion issues. In fact, “three fundamental rights that have been denied to trans people in Costa Rica [and to many members of the LGTBQ+ community as well] are education, jobs, and access to health services. (…)” (Márquez, 2019, para. 4). One concrete example of this denial of rights contemplates the coverage of the health insurance for same-sex partners. In 2014 it was announced that “Costa Ricans who have health insurance coverage with the Social Security System, or Caja, can now cover same-sex partners at any public community health clinic (Ebais) or Caja hospital, the agency announced.” (Pomareda, 2014, para. 1).
However, it is also relevant to understand the cultural context of Costa Rica to realize the significance all these decisions. It is not a secret that Costa Rica is a very socially conservative country. Also, the religion, which is officially Catholic, plays a key role in way of thinking of many of the citizens. It is worth noting that, in the Catholic religion, the LGTBQ+ community is not precisely accepted. In accordance to an article published in 2017, titled “Costa Rica still a conservative society, survey finds”, a majority of respondents of the survey conducted by the University of Costa Rica –70.3 percent– said religion is very important in their lives, and almost 60 percent are against the approval of same-sex marriage. (Arias, 2017, para. 3). Besides, it was evidenced during the presidential race of 2018, which led Mr. Carlos Alvarado to the presidency, the great division between the voters and their perception towards this issue. In synthesis, the polarization occurred because his opponent, Fabricio Alvarado, represented a party conservative and religious.
As a conclusion, it is extremely evident, in the new measures promoted by Carlos Alvarado’s government, the evolution of Costa Rica towards the acceptance and guarantee of the LGTBQ+ community rights. Hopefully more proposals will be developed for the benefit of this citizens.