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ADF International presented oral arguments before Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Same-sex partnerships in Costa Rica: Court must respect national competence

SAN JOSÉ/WASHINGTON DC – On 17 May, ADF International participated in oral arguments in a defining case concerning family law before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS). Costa Rica asked the Court whether the country’s domestic law on marriage and “gender identity” violates international law. Costa Rica does not accept or facilitate name adaptions based on supposed changes to gender nor does it recognize same-sex partnerships.

“The Inter-American Court must respect national sovereignty, particularly in areas where international law is silent, such as ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity.’ While the right for men and women to marry is recognized under international law, there is no corresponding right to same-sex marriage or a name change based on ‘gender identity’, said Neydy Casillas, Legal Counsel for ADF International and an expert on human rights law and the Inter-American Court.

Competence of national legislatures
In May 2016, Costa Rica asked the Inter-American Court for an advisory opinion on whether the state is obliged to legally recognize and facilitate name changes of their citizens based on their ‘gender identity’. Another question addressed the regulation of same-sex relationships and if the state should recognize will and estate benefits or patrimonial assets to same-sex couples. ADF International intervened in the case as a third party.

“The American Convention on Human Rights does not obligate Member States to recognize same-sex partnerships. Marriage and family law is the competence of national legislatures. We urge the Court to respect national sovereignty in this particular aspect and on marriage and family law in general,” added Casillas.

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