San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Leader of municipal Diversity Office’s contract not renewed, blames 'homophobia'

On the same day that gay and lesbian couples across Costa Rica applied for domestic partnerships, the Municipality of Goicoechea, Guadalupe, a suburb northeast of San José, announced that it would not renew the contract of the head of the city’s Diversity Office, sociologist Rodrigo Campos.

Campos, vice president of the Diversity Movement, an LGBT organization, claimed the city government refused to renew his two-month term because he did his job. The sociologist said his superior believed he spent “too much time” on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. 

The Diversity Office head said the decision was based on “homophobia.”

A letter Campos received from the city government cited absenteeism and an “ideological vision” that did not match the Diversity Office or the Department of Human Development’s expectations as the reasons for his dismissal.

Campos countered that the absences cited were requested and approved by his boss.

At press time, the municipality had not responded to The Tico Times’ inquiries about its decision not to renew Campos’ term. 

Campos pointed out that part of his duties as head of the office was to “conceive and execute projects and activities that promote a better quality of life and the holistic development of homosexual persons (gays, lesbians) and trans (transsexuals, transvestites and transgender)” people.

The Goicoecha is the only municipality in Costa Rica with an Office of Diversity dedicated to promoting awareness, respect and defense of human rights without discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, social-economic status, religion or culture or any other condition that could undermine the development of the individual in the canton.

Campos opined that the office’s two-month terms are designed to limit the effectiveness of the position and criticized the municipality for not properly funding the office.

There have been four heads appointed to the Diversity Office, including Campos, since its inception in 2011.

At the same press conference, lawyer Marco Castillo, president of the Diversity Movement, responded to the Episcopal Conference’s open letter against same-sex unions.

“It’s exhausting to hear that the Episcopal Conference, bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church have allied with the evangelicals in their zeal for persecution against sexually diverse people,” Castillo said.

Both Castillo and Bishop Óscar Fernández, who authored the conference’s letter, appealed to the Costa Rican Constitution in their responses.

Fernández wrote that Article 14 of the Young Person Law’s Family Code defines marriage as between a man and woman.

LGBT advocates of the amended Family Code argue that domestic partnerships are not the same thing as marriage.

Castillo argued that new legislation supersedes existing law and that the recently amended Article 242 modifies the requirements for domestic partnerships, extending them to all Costa Ricans “without discrimination.”

The lawyer added that their sights remain on full legal marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

Alejandro Madrigal, a representative from the University of Costa Rica Federation of Students and FDI, said that the marriage equality petition has collected just under 4,000 signatures. The same-sex marriage group needs 165,000 signatures for the petition to be accepted for debate by the legislative assembly.

“We’re going to fight to arrive at a moment when there is no difference between straight and gay. … We’re going to fight for marriage equality,” Castillo said.

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