San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gays Call for End To Discrimination

Gay rights groups in Costa Rica seized the occasion of International Day against Homophobia May 17 to ask President Oscar Arias to help create more equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

The Diversity Movement called for Arias to act on the campaign promises he made the group, said Diversity Movement president Abelardo Araya.

Arias “told us that yes, he was committed to ending discrimination against gays here, and now we want to see concrete actions,” Araya said.

During an appointment with Casa Presidencial’s Social Aid Office, the group submitted a letter to Arias requesting three things: that he form a commission to target discrimination, composed of members of the ministries of Education, Labor, Health and Culture, as well as representatives from civil society; support a bill to legalize civil union for gay couples; and help with an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign the Diversity Movement is carrying out with the Public Health Ministry.

In terms of homophobia, Costa Rica is doing “very badly,” Araya said. “Costa Rica is a country that has an image before the world as a respecter of human rights, but in reality there is a lot of racism, sexism, machismo and all forms of discrimination.”

Araya’s group is also suggesting that the government launch a campaign modeled after the “Brazil Without Homophobia” campaign to get the word out that discriminating against gays is wrong.

“Homophobia is an attitude full of hostility or exclusion against homosexual people, men and women, that has repercussions on all levels: it makes the objects of discrimination  lose their dreams, opportunities, families and loved ones … and in many cases their jobs or even their lives,” said a statement released last week by the Diversity Movement.


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