Friday, 2 July 2010

Marriage Equality, Costa Rica: Court Puts Referendum On Hold

In the US, the path to marriage has been bedevilled by tussles between courts, legislatures and citizens' ballot initiatives.  The key question: is it fair or constituionally acceptable to allow a majority to vote  away the rights of a minority? The high profile case here is that of California, with its protracted legal battle over Prop 8.

In Costa Rica, where the country was gearing up for a Prop 8 style referendum on gay marriage, there has been a new twist. Instead of waiting for the outcome and then trying to overturn it, a citizen has succesfully petitioned the constutional court to intervene and prevent the referendum going ahead. This is not a final decision -  this is just a restraining order while the constitutional court deliberates- but there could be promise here.

Costa Rica's Constitutional Court Orders A Stop To Same Sex Marriage Referendum

The Sala Constitucional (Constitutional Court) has ordered the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) to suspend the process of the referendum on same sex marriages that was to have been included in the December 2010 municipal elections.

The court order was based on an appeal filed against the referendum.

The Recurso Amparo (appeal) was presented by an individual identified only by the last names, Quirós Salazar, alleging that the referendum violates the rights and freedoms of individuals.

The referendum was to have let the population decide the fate of a proposal for law that would allow same sexmarriages in Costa Rica

Opponents to the referendum have argued that leaving the allowing the majority of the population (93%) which is heterosexual would be a constitutional violation of the 7% of the homosexual population.

The Quirós Salazar action argues that there are international declarations that make it clear that there be a respect for the rights of minorities.
The Court order orders the TSE to not continue with its efforts for the referendum while the magistrates of the Sala Constitucional consider the appeal.

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