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13 August 2010

Costa Rica's Top Court Prohibits Referendum on Homosexual Unions

Says permitting vote would aggravate discrimination against homosexuals

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

SAN JOSÉ, August 11, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Costa Rica's Constitutional Court, the nation's highest tribunal, has ruled that citizens cannot vote on the issue of homosexual "civil unions" because "people who have relations with the same sex are a disadvantaged group that is the object of discrimination."

Rejecting the arguments of pro-family groups and the nation's Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the court voted 5-2 to prohibit such a vote, claiming that it would "deepen and aggravate discrimination" against homosexuals.

The Court's decision cancels a referendum on the matter previously scheduled for December, for which over 150,000 signatures were gathered in recent months. The referendum was called in response to proposed legislation to create "civil unions" for homosexual couples, which would give them the same rights normally reserved for married couples.

The bill, which is known as Legal Project 16390 and not yet been subject to a final vote, has been condemned by the Costa Rican Catholic bishops' conference, whose flock includes the vast majority of Costa Ricans.

Denouncing the legislation in September of last year, the Costa Rican bishops wrote that "we are facing a bill that intends in practice to equalize" homosexual unions, which, "is manifestly against articles 51 and 52 of the Constitution, in which matrimony is the essential base of the family, and has the right to the special protection of the government. The equalization of unions of people of the same sex with matrimony is therefore unconstitutional."

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