Costa Rica judge grants same-sex common law marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A Costa Rican judge has granted the first same-sex common law marriage in central America.

The “common law marriage” – which is not the same as a legal marriage or civil partnerships – grants Gerald Castro and Cristian Zamora benefits such as inheritance and social security.

A judge can grant one after a couple have been together for three years. Costa Rica currently does not allow same-sex marriage, but has a bill for civil unions progressing through it’s legislature.

A change to the country’s law in 2013 opened up common law marriages to same-sex couples, but this is the first that has been granted.

Marco Castillo, president of the Diversity Movement, said: “This is a big step forward. This is the first time that the law has been recognized as such.

Francisco Madrigal, political affairs director for the Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America said: “This is an important accomplishment but it gives us a view of how much more we need to do.”

The country has been at the forefront of LGBT rights in central America – extending social benefits to same sex couples last year.

Costa Rica’s president also flew a pride flag above his residence, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. He has however said he does not support same-sex marriage.