ADF International

Iglesia De Coronado, Costa Rica

Advisory Opinion OC-24/17 on Marriage and “Gender Identity” in Costa Rica

Date of most recent action: 08 Sep 2018

Inter-American Court of Human Rights pressures Americas to implement liberal agenda

What’s at Stake

  • National Sovereignty
  • Marriage as the Union of One Man and One Woman


On 18 May 2016, Costa Rica submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR).  The nation asked the Court whether the country’s domestic law on marriage and ‘gender identity’ violated international law.  At the time, Costa Rica did not accept or facilitate name adaptions based on supposed changes to gender nor does it recognize same-sex partnerships.

On 9 January 2018, the IACtHR released its decision, saying that same-sex marriage and ‘gender identity’ are protected classes under nondiscrimination law in the American Convention on Human Rights.

Even though the decision is non-binding, the court took the added step of calling upon the Latin American nations to accept and implement the advisory opinion.  Twenty countries in the Americas have signaled that they accept the court’s jurisdiction, which only further emboldens the IACtHR’s judicial activism.

According to ADF International Senior Counsel Neydy Casillas, the court’s pressuring call violates international law, specifically Article 3 of the OAS Charter which affirms national sovereignty and Article 68 of the American Convention on Human Rights which only requires countries involved in the case to comply with judgments from the IACtHR.  Marriage and family law are competencies of the national legislatures, not the IACtHR.  An expert on human rights law and the Inter-American Court, Casillas has written about the flaws in the court’s decision-making in this case.  Her analysis can be found, in Spanish, here.

Our Role:

ADF International intervened in the case as a third party and presented oral arguments before the Inter-American Court.

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Faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.