Costa Rica has finally officially lifted its ban on same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, the country’s constitutional court ruled same-sex couples will have the right to get married by mid-2020, Reuters reports.
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The government is scheduled to publish the ruling next week and it will take effect 18 months later, according to Reuters.
The court sided with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which ordered countries in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage back in January.
“Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality, or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family,” human rights organization Amnesty International said in a statement on marriage equality.
Same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in some neighboring South American countries, but Costa Rica’s feat marks the first for Central America.
Killings and violence against LGBTQ people in Central America are driving hundreds to flee their homes each year, according to a report released by Amnesty International in 2017.
While Costa Rica is known for being socially progressive in terms of higher education and health care, all human rights issues are not protected equally. Reproductive rights are still limited, and only 30% of Costa Ricans supported same-sex marriage according to a survey released in January by the University of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s first same-sex wedding was blocked in January by officials who refused to recognize it until the ban was officially lifted by law. Following the decision, human rights activists protested for equal LGBTQ rights at the polls.
President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who took office in May, also campaigned for legalizing same-sex marriage and equality for all.
While the court ruling has been months in the making, not everyone is pleased with the news.
“In the natural order of things, that basic family nucleus of society is based on monogamous and heterosexual marriage,” the Catholic Church’s Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica said in a statement.
But President Quesada remains hopeful.
La igualdad plena de derechos llegará, el amor ganará. pic.twitter.com/KMALMIAGaF— Carlos Alvarado Quesada (@CarlosAlvQ) November 15, 2018
“It’s now just a matter of time. Full equal rights will come, love will prevail,” he tweeted.