Broad Front Party president blasts Costa Rica’s Human Rights Commission

June 4, 2012

See José María Villalta’s answers in Spanish at the bottom of the article.

The youngest member of Costa Rica’s Congress, José María Villalta, 34, leads the left-leaning Broad Front Party. The progressive party has pushed forward bills intended to improve equal rights for the LGBT community, including a same-sex union bill. When it became apparent that evangelical lawmaker Justo Orozco would be put in charge of the country’s Human Rights Commission in the Legislative Assembly, Villalta lambasted a political deal between the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN), the Access Without Exclusion Party (PASE) and Orozco. Villalta talked with the The Tico Times last Tuesday about the move and the future of human rights’ issues like same-sex unions and in vitro fertilization.

TT: With this year’s Human Rights Commission, will we see any progress with gay rights bills? 

JMV: I believe that it is going to be very difficult for a bill to move forward due to the makeup of the commission. And more so if they put lawmaker Justo Orozco in charge, because he is a clear enemy of LGBT rights. I also see difficulties because of the integrity [of the commission]. They put on the commission other lawmakers who also have conservative positions against the rights of same-sex couples.
So, I believe this will be an uphill battle, it’s going to be very difficult to advance these bills with the makeup this commission has.

Is it possible that this will just be a waste of a year as far as equal rights goes in Costa Rica?

It’s a huge step backwards for the Costa Rican government, which goes around the world talking about human rights. But they make alliances with the most reactionary, conservative members of society.
In Orozco’s case, I believe they put a person who has violated human rights in charge of the commission, because here, in this same Congress, he has made truly offensive and discriminatory remarks against gays. His speech is filled with discrimination, hate and homophobia. And the fact that the government put him in charge of the Human Rights Commission because of a deal is really a terrible precedent for the country.

Orozco is not the only questionable choice on the Human Rights Commission, we also have a lawmaker who is facing criminal charges for alleged extortion, Jorge Angulo.

Definitely, it seems that they made a real effort to select people who have no commitment to human rights.

The other controversial issue the Human Rights Commission will look at is legalizing in vitro fertilization. Will the commission also hinder any discussions of that topic?

From the moment Laura Chinchilla’s administration decided to ally itself with PASE and the evangelical lawmakers, obviously there is a compromise to halt any projects related to these issues, because otherwise the alliance would fall apart. So clearly we are going to see, or we are already seeing, years of decline.

José María Villalta’s answers in Spanish:

1. Yo creo que va a ser muy difícil que el proyecto pueda avanzar – a como quedó integrada la Comisión – y más si pusieron de presidente de esa Comisión al diputado Justo Orozco que es un claro enemigo de estas reivindicaciones de derechos de las personas GLBT.
Yo también lo veo difícil porque además se cambió la integración [de la Comisión]. Pusieron otros diputados que también tienen posiciones conservadoras, posiciones en contra del reconocimiento de los derechos de las parejas del mismo sexo.
Entonces yo creo que el proyecto va estar “cuesta arriba”, va a ser muy difícil que avance ese proyecto, con la integración que tiene esa Comisión.

2. Yo creo que es un gran retroceso para el gobierno de Costa Rica que ande en foros internacionales hablando de respeto a los derechos humanos y aquí más bien hace negociaciones y alianzas con los sectores más retrógrados, más conservadores de la sociedad costarricense que son enemigos del avance de los derechos humanos.
En el caso del diputado Orozco, yo creo que pusieron a presidir la Comisión a una persona que incluso ha violado los derechos humanos, porque aquí, en este mismo plenario, ha hecho declaraciones verdaderamente ofensivas y discriminatorias contra las personas gay.
El tiene un discurso de discriminación, de odio, de homofobia… ¡Y que el gobierno lo ponga a presidir la Comisión de Derechos Humanos por una negociación es realmente un pésimo precedente para el país!

3. Efectivamente, pareciera que se esforzaron realmente en poner personas que no tienen compromiso con los derechos humanos.

4. Desde el momento en que el gobierno de Laura Chinchilla decide aliarse con el PASE y con los diputados evangélicos, claramente hay un compromiso de frenar cualquier proyecto relacionado con estos temas, porque de lo contrario se caería esa alianza. Entonces es claro que vamos a tener… o ya estamos teniendo años de retroceso.

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