A Group of Over 20,000 Came Out to Protest Gay Marriage in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is known for being gay-friendly, offering gay-only resorts and tourism locales, gay-friendly restaurants and bars, gay clubs, and many other gay-friendly options. However, it seems that homosexual rights end where the money stops: a recently proposed law to allow gay civil unions has been greeted by religious opposition and protests.
Two weeks ago, the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica made its formal plea to Costa Rica’s lawmakers, asking them to reject a law that would grant gay civil unions the same legal status as marriage. The bishops explained that, according to Christian law, the family — one mother, one father — is the basis of civil society. Though they respect homosexuals, the Catholic Church cannot agree to view their unions as equal to those between a man and a woman.
In their formal appeal, the bishops warned that politicians “cannot and should not legislate against correct reasoning, because if they pass the law, it would loose moral force.” They continued, saying that “laws favorable to homosexual unions are contrary to correct reasoning because they confer legal guarantees proper to the institution of marriage to unions between people of the same sex. Considering the values in question, the State cannot legalize these unions without failing in its duty to promote and protect an essential institution for the common good, which marriage is.”
Unlike the United States, for example, Costa Rica’s official religion is Catholicism, and there is no forced separation between church and state. Many of the country’s laws are influenced by Christianity and the bishops, though not the country’s lawmakers, have a fair bit of influence in shaping Costa Rica’s morality and morally-based laws, such as gay marriage and abortion, which is also illegal.
The bishops emphasized that they do respect gay rights, but believe that legalizing gay rights — gay marriage — would interfere with the rights of family. “It is necessary above all to reflect on the differences between homosexual behavior as a private phenomenon and public behavior, legally tested, approved and converted into an institution of legal order. The second phenomenon is not only more grave but also of greater and deeper scope, as it could entail changes contrary to the common good of the entire social order… Civil laws are structural principles of man’s life in society, for good or for evil.”
The bishops called for “Catholic lawmakers to speak out and vote against this measure, and to those who do not share our faith, to examine the arguments we have laid out. And in conformity with the rules of correct reasoning, of human nature and of life in society, not to cast their vote for a bill that clearly goes against the common good of the residents of our country.” In response to their words, not only have Catholic lawmakers united, but yesterday, more than 20,000 people congregated on Paseo Colón, marching against gay civil unions.
The protest march began at 8 a.m. in front of the Hospital San Juan de Dios, and finished around noon in La Sabana park. The march was organized by the Costa Rican Evangelical Alliance, bringing together religious Costa Ricans from around the country. “We’re calling out against the law that the Legislative Assembly is considering, to allow for homosexual civil unions,” explained march participant, Reynaldo Salazar.
The bill was first introduced by the homosexual community in 2006, but was placed on the back burner until recently. Only time will tell if Costa Rica will legally recognize gay civil unions, but it promises to be a contentious topic, splitting the country down its religious center. Despite the doubt that Costa Rica will condone legal rights for civil unions, it remains to be a tolerant country with a strong gay population, with budding industry focused on gay Travel to Costa Rica.
Photo Courtesy of La Nacion.
|Written by Erin Raub|
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Filed under: Costa Rica News on July 29th, 2008