Lesbian couple face up to six years in jail – just for getting married

Wife and wife - not wife and "partner"

Two women face up to six years in jail for holding a same-sex marriage in Costa Rica – despite a ban.

Laura Florez-Estrada and Jazmin Elizondo successfully registered their marriage in over the summer.

Although same-sex marriage is banned in the country, the pair were able to marry due to a 24-year-old clerical error that lists Ms Elizondo as male on her birth certificate.

However, a criminal complaint has since been filed against the women and their lawyer, by the director of Civil Registry, Luis Bolanos.

He aims to annul the wedding, by proving it was conducted illegally.

“We believe that these people were aware that a marriage between people of the same sex warrants a complaint, that parts of the Criminal Code might have been broken,” he said.

The women have vowed to fight the annulment, as the hope to set a legal precedent for other gay couples in Costa Rica.

Equal marriage is still banned in the central American country – meaning those who knowingly break the law can be locked up from two to six years.

However, a civil unions bill is currently under consideration in the legislature.

In addition, a judge recently recognised a union between two men based on a youth law that prohibits sexual discrimination.

The pair’s lawyer – who drew up the marriage papers – argues that he legally wed a woman to a man, as was stated on their birth certificates.

“It’s an important political step because it makes clear that rights should not be conditioned by gender identity,” Marco Castillo – who is also head of LGBT rights group Diversity Movement – told The Telegraph.

“This should make people see such issues as something natural.”

In August, the President of Costa Rica introduced a bill which would legalise same-sex common law marriages.

The bill, 18.483, would protect same-sex cohabiting couples, which meet the definition of a “stable” relationship.

Under the bill, such relationships are defined as a couple having lived together for over three years.

It specifies that couples are protected irrespective of their “sex, identity, sexual orientation or choice”.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, on presenting the bill, said his government was committed to equality and human rights for all.