On Wednesday it was reported that a lesbian couple had filed a lawsuit before Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court against section 6 of Article 14 of the nation’s Family Code which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. This comes as the couple and their attorney are currently being investigated by the Public Prosecutor for having performed an illegal marriage in the country.
Laura Flórez-Estrada and Jazmín Elizondo were married due to an error that registered Jazmín as a man on July 5th, 2015. When the Civil Registry discovered the error, they fixed it but did not annul the union. The Civil Registry then cited the couple on November 9th under Article 176 of the Penal Code which states “Those who have contracted a marriage will be reprimanded with six months to three years in prison if both are aware of an existing impediment that would cause their marriage would be found null and void.” The couple’s attorney, Marco Castillo, has also been named in the state suit for presiding over the marriage in question.
Ms. Flórez-Estrada and Ms. Elizondo received the official complaint on January 4th and according to La Republica, Mr. Castillo has proclaimed his innocence and will defend himself in court next week by presenting his account of how the events unfolded.
The case has highlighted the fight for the recognition of same-sex couples in the country. Although the government passed a law allowing conjugal visitation, health-related decision making and social insurance rights for gay couples, current partnership bills remains stuck in the Legislative Assembly due to conservative politicians filibustering the bills with amendments. Activists and some Assemblymen have gone a step further than civil union proposals and introduced a gay marriage bill following the Flórez-Elizondo case.
For more information of the LGBT rights situation in Costa Rica, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Costa_Rica