Costa Rica does not allow same sex civil unions. However, a bill is being passed through congress currently, and common law marriages can be recognized by a judge.
After a couple have spent three years living together, a judge can grant a common law marriage as was the case for Cristian Zamora and Gerald Castro who recently received recognition for their union. That recognition means benefits in regards to inheritance and social security, and it means a big leap forward in social reform.
The country changed a law in 2013, and that opened the door to common law marriages being recognized among same sex couples. Cristian and Gerald’s union is the first time that the law has been put to work, and marks a step forward for many in the LGBT community. Costa Rica is one of the very first countries in Central America to recognize same sex couple rights and to extend benefits to same sex unions.
President Luis Guillermo Solís flew a pride flag above his home during the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, The President said: “This is the house of all Costa Ricans. When we say all Costa Ricans we mean all, without exclusion, without violence, without harassment in absolute respect for the rights of each one.” He has expressed his opinion, however, that he does not support same sex marriage.
Costa Rica voted to extend social security benefits to same sex couples last year. This included extensions to equal health insurance protection and hospital visitations. Costa Rica is moving forward on the topic, but still has many places to make progress. The same sex marriage debate in Costa Rica has always found a strong opposition in the Catholic Church despite recent revelations by the Pope. Years of unacceptance and discrimination are a difficult thing to reverse.