LGBT Issues Take Center Stage in Bermuda and Costa Rica
Over the past week, debates over same-sex marriage have sparked international headlines.
Earlier this month, a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a ruling demanding that Costa Rica legalize same-sex marriage.The court ruling has taken center stage in Costa Rica's 2018 presidential election.
Presidential front-runner and former Pentecostal singer Fabricio Alvarado has made opposition to gay-marriage a top concern of his campaign. Starting from an obscure candidacy, Alvarado’s anti-gay stance has propelled him to the front and center of the presidential campaign.
Alvarado narrowly won the first presidential round last Sunday against fourteen other candidates.
During a live interview Alvarado stated: “If we have to leave, if we have to denounce the Pact of San Jose and thus stop the interference from the [court], it won’t make our hands tremble.” He added, “They are imposing something on us that ought to be resolved by the Legislative Assembly.”
Alvarado’s traditional views on marriage are by no means unique for a majority Catholic country like Costa Rica. According to several polls, nearly two-thirds of Costa Ricans oppose the ruling and believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
Ana Cecilia Sanchez, 53, told the Washington Post that she is still undecided but her religious views would impede her from casting her ballot for Carlos Alvarado or for Antonio Alvarez, also top contenders in the upcoming April 1 runoff.
“For me the issue of values and principles is very important for all of society, because family is the basis of society. ... You ask yourself what will happen to Costa Rica if Christian values are lost,” Sanchez said.
Currently, eight out of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean recognize some sort of union between same-sex couples. Up until last Wednesday, Bermuda was among the nine countries to legally recognize gay marriage. However, it has become the first country to ever repeal a same-sex marriage decision.
Like Costa Rica, Bermuda is known for its laid back mentality, environmental awareness and Catholic majority. A 2015 poll conducted by Profiles of Bermuda found that 58.0 percent of voters were against gay-marriage while 38.6 percent supported it.
In May 2017, amidst growing international pressure to conform to past European court rulings, the British island territory legalized same-sex marriage through a Supreme Court ruling.
The decision to roll back same-sex marriage rights follow a legislative ruling by Bermuda’s Senate and House of Assembly on Dec. 2018. The bill was passed by majority vote.
The Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown, commented that the legislation signed by the governor of Bermuda, John James Rankin, “ seeks to balance opposition to same-sex marriage on the socially conservative island while complying with European court rulings that ensure recognition and protection for same-sex couples in the territory.”
This legislative balance that Brown alludes to is the passage of the Domestic Partnership Act. The Act allows for domestic partnership between same-sex couples but does not legally recognize same-sex marriage.
Several LGBT organizations such as the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, have been quick to denounce the decision, calling it “shameful.”
Moreover, Theresa May’s spokesperson stated that Britain was “seriously disappointed” about the verdict, yet stand by Britain’s decision to not interfere in the islands political affairs: “ the bill has been democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda, and our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and respect for their right to democratic self-government.”