Two years ago, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis promised to increase LGBT rights in his country. He had submitted a petition to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The Court of Human Rights has returned its verdict. It's amazing! Six of the seven judges said that countries “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.”
They also specified that governments should "guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination.”
They are asking all countries that are part of the Organization of American States and that have signed the American Convention on Human Rights to allow equal marriage.
The countries concerned are: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
19 of these countries don't allow marriage equality yet, sometimes civil unions are possible but that's all.
But the decision doesn't concern Dominica, Grenada, and Jamaica, which didn't sign the American Convention on Human Rights.
Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that these countries must legalize marriage equality. So how is this a great decision? It creates a precedent that could mark a turning point in South America and the Caribbean. LGBT couples will be able to rely on it to launch challenges and get their unions recognized or a right to marry.
In Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras and Jamaica, homosexuality is a crime. There could be a positive evolution there too.
For the moment, only Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay have legalized marriage equality. And in Mexico, 13 states allow it. But there is still a lot of progress in equality.
In Panama, Peru, and Venezuela, challenges have been launched to get same-sex marriage.
Chile has introduced an equal marriage bill. The president supports it.
Finally, Costa Rica should move towards a bill to legalize equal marriage. It should also recognize gender identity without requiring medical, psychological, or judicial interventions.
Canada and the United States are not part of the Organization of American States.