In a groundbreaking ruling, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected categories, demanding that member states recognize full equality for LGBTQ people.
The Court mandated states to extend the same rights and benefits that different-sex couples enjoy to same-sex couples, specifically stating that the only purpose of creating new legal institutions to avoid extending marriage to same-sex couples would be inherently discriminatory and stigmatizing.
The same ruling also detailed that States should allow people to change their names and gender markers according to their gender identity. It also recommended to adopt a simple and painless administrative procedure for citizens to request those changes, which should not require any medical surgical procedures.
Carmen Muñoz, Vice-Minister of Governance and Police, and the only out member of the Costa Rican Cabinet declared: “The Inter-American Court Decision is truly exciting and opens some interesting avenues to achieve equality.”
David León, an openly gay Councilor in Heredia, proclaimed that, “this sentence is a ray of light and hope. It represents a victory for people who have just discovered their sexual orientation or who are facing discrimination.”
The Costa Rican Government has already accepted the ruling, announcing that they would comply with it. More interestingly, an additional 19 countries are legally bound by these stipulations. Those countries could potentially be brought before the Court should they fail to comply with this interpretation of the Convention.
Muñoz and León are two of the few out elected officials in Costa Rica and in Central America. Both have spoken at several events organized by the LGBTQ Victory Institute in Latin America. Luis Abolafia, the U.S. Director of International Programs at Victory, applauded their efforts. “Their fearless defense of equality and their work with allies, such as Carmen Chacón, Vice President of Costa Rica, are an inspiration for LGBTQ leaders across the continent.”
Carmen Muñoz and David León, together with other out LGBTQ elected officials from Latin America and the Caribbean, at the ‘Meeting of LGBTI Political Leadership’ Conference, organized by Victory Institute in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in April 2017.