First Openly Gay Member of Costa Rica National Assembly Takes Office

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The first openly gay man elected to the Costa Rica National Assembly was sworn in on Tuesday.

Enrique Sánchez — a journalist who is a member of the leftist Citizen’s Action Party — represents a portion of San José Province in the National Assembly.

Sánchez told the Washington Blade on Thursday during a WhatsApp interview from the Costa Rican capital of San José that he never hid his sexual orientation during his campaign. Sánchez added the reaction he received from voters was “positive.”

“My campaign sought to promote visibility for the LGBT community,” he told the Blade. “My sexual orientation wasn’t something I hid.”

Sánchez, 40, took office a month after Carlos Alvarado of the Citizen’s Action Party defeated Fabricio Alvarado of the National Restoration Party in the second round of Costa Rica’s presidential election.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January issued a landmark ruling that recognized same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

Outgoing Vice President Ana Helena Chacón announced her government would comply with the decision.

Fabricio Alvarado — a former journalist who is a singer and Pentecostal minister — made his opposition to the ruling the centerpiece of his campaign. Carlos Alvarado — who takes office on May 8 — publicly supports marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Fabricio and Carlos Alvarado are not related.

“(The ruling) is binding and it must be implemented,” Sánchez told the Blade.

Sánchez noted improving access to technology and reforming Costa Rica’s public television network are among his other legislative priorities. He also told the Blade he hopes U.S. institutions can “stop” the Trump administration’s efforts to curtail the rights of LGBT people, women, migrants, people of color and other marginalized groups.

 

— Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.


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