Backlash to marriage equality is playing a key role in the Costa Rican presidential race, threatening to sweep an underdog evangelical candidate into office.
Earlier this month, an Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of marriage equality, and while President Luis Guillermo Solis directed government agencies to adhere to that decision, new marriage laws have not bee drafted yet.
Since then support for previously little known evangelical Fabricio Alvarado has skyrocketed sixfold landing him in first place in the polls.
Alvarado, a 43-year-old journalist and the sole representative of the National Restoration party, is less than a point head, but his aggressive anti-LGBTQ position “seems to have resonated with voters,” analyst Risa Grais-Targow told Bloomberg.
Alvarado says, if elected, he would pull Costa Rica out of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. “We aren’t willing to push an LGBTI agenda,” he added.
Opposition candidate Antonio Alvarez of the National Liberation Party (PLN) is in second place with 21.4% support. Juan Diego Castro, a populist lawyer billed as the Donald Trump of Costa Rica, is in third with 15.7%
If no candidate wins more than 40% of the vote in the February 4 election, a runoff will be held between the top two on April 1. With more than a dozen candidates running, and none polled over 25%, that seems like a certainty.
Meanwhile, marriage equality’s future in the country seems less assured: Despite President Solis’ order to recognize same-sex marriages, a gay couple was told last week that their union wouldn’t be recognized until legislators officially changed the law.
— Roberth Castillo (@Roberthcstllo) September 20, 2015
“The rules that regulate marriage in Costa Rica…remain in force,” the notary council said.