Costa Rica Vida

Local Costa Rica News and Updates



New Law in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s pride parade, Marcha de la Diversidad this past summer in San José saw tens of thousands of people participating. And this year there is a lot to celebrate.

In 2018, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. This ruling came a few months after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights said that its member countries must grant equal rights to same-sex couples.

Background: The Inter-American court of Human right (Corte Interamericano de Derechos Humanos) was established after World War II. Twenty-five nations in Central America and South America decided to adhere to the convention “order to safeguard the essential rights of man.” Venezuela was part of the convention, then in 2012, it decided to supervise itself. And Trinidad and Tobago were originally part of the organization, but went their own way in 1998.

Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado supports marriage equality and campaigned on it, but he has been criticized for the 18-month delay in enforcing the law. But to be fair, nothing happens on the timeline you’d expect in Costa Rica. It takes 3 days to get a new car battery, a year to get lines painted on a ‘new’ road and a solid 40 minutes to get your check after asking for it at restaurants. So, in Tico time, 18 months is pretty speedy. And asking a socially conservative country that is almost 70 percent Catholic to rethink their stance on gay marriage and accept the law in less than 2 years is pretty impressive.

To bolster support for marriage equality in Costa Rica, the Sí Acepto (or Yes I Do) campaign was launched to help with social acceptance of the new law.  The Si Acepto campaign website offers personal stories to “strengthen this great conversation.”

And in recent years the Catholic Church has somewhat softened it’s stance on gay marriage. While the Catholic Church still defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, in 2017, Pop Francis showed support for civil partnership unions to address issues such as medical decisions, inheritance, property ownership, etc.

Whether everyone is ready or not, the Constitutional Chamber of the Judicial Power stipulated that by May 26 of 2020, Costa Rica will have marriage equality.


This past summer, the president of Costa Rica signed an executive decree (41329-MGP) telling the Department of Immigration to process residency paperwork for same-sex couples.

In the past, same-gender couples could move to Costa Rica, but they would just have to apply as individuals. Now, LGBTQ couples can apply for Costa Rican residency as a couple under the new Regulation for the Recognition of Migratory Rights for Same-Sex Couples.


While Manuel Antonio has marketed to the LGBTQ travel community for years, other cities will most likely soon follow suit. This Forbes article was a shout-out to hotels in Costa Rica that have already started gay-friendly initiatives.

Having marriage equality in Costa Rica will open the country up to be a more popular place for LGBTQ destination weddings. While Costa Rica will recognize marriage equality starting in 2020, to be legally recognized in the US, any American getting marred in Costa Rica still has to jump through a few hoops like having your Costa Rican marriage certificate translated into English,  authenticated by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Relations, notarized by a Notary and signed by the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section.

For more on living in Costa Rica and travel, check out the Finding Pura Vida homepage.