Tensions surrounding LGBTQ rights have risen in Costa Rica in the past few months, giving rise to anti-LGBTQ sentiment and the rise of anti-LGBTQ presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado. The Costa Rican school year began with parents protesting by blocking the entrances to more than a dozen elementary school and keeping their children at home in order to demonstrate their disapproval of “gender ideology” being taught in sex education classes, according to the Council of the Americas.
Tensions worsened when, in early 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages, thus legalizing same-sex marriage in Costa Rica. The court decision led to a huge political backlash in Costa Rica, especially among conservative voters.
According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of Costa Ricans oppose same-sex marriage. When broken out by faith, 78% of Costa Rican Protestants oppose legal gay marriage, compared to “just” 57% of Catholics. However, the tide seems to be turning ever so slowly; 40% of Costa Ricans aged 18 to 34 support marriage equality — though support drops to only 20% for those older than 35.
Still, the country has a long way to go and things aren’t looking great. LGBTQ Issues, especially marriage equality, have taken a front seat in Costa Rica’s current presidential race.
Fabricio Alvarado, a conservative evangelical presidential candidate, is leading the polls, a scary reality for LGBTQ Costa Ricans. Alvarado publicly condemned the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He is even threatening to pull Costa Rica out of the court should he win the election.
Alvarado has also drawn support from Alvaro Ramos who served as Vice Minister of the Interior from 1986 to 1987. It was during that time when Ramos orchestrated a crackdown on LGBTQ citizens. She was responsible for roughly 1,000 people being arrested without charges, then publicly outed and forcibly tested for HIV.
Ramos could possibly be made the Minister of Security if Alvarado wins the election, according to journalist Cristian Cambronero.
Human rights groups in Costa Rica are reporting a rise in physical and verbal attacks against LGBTQ people, including death threats, according to Telesur.
“We all have the right to live without being assaulted. We are urging the state to implement protective measures,” Michelle Jones, spokesperson for the Front for Equal Rights, said.
The Costa Rican presidential election will take place April 1.
What do you think about Costa Rica and Fabricio Alvarado’s homophobia? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image by Arnulfo Franco/AP