Costa Rica's highest court has blocked
a referendum on gay civil unions from going forward, the AP reported.
The Constitutional Court ruled Tuesday
that the issue should be decided by the legislature and not the
public. In its 5-2 decision, the court said the rights of gay men
and lesbians must be protected.
The effort was organized by four
lawyers, who collected more than 150,000 signatures to place the
issue before voters. Many of those petitions were passed around at
The Roman Catholic Church had strongly
backed the measure in an effort to thwart the government from
legalizing gay unions, which the Costa Rican parliament has
considered since 2006. Supporters believed an overwhelming number
of voters would vote against gay civil unions in the Catholic
Costa Rica's newly-elected President
Laura Chinchilla has called such rights “not a priority.”
The referendum was scheduled to be held
on December 5, when Costa Rica also is holding municipal elections.
Defeat at the ballot box would have
only ended the hopes of the civil unions bill from becoming law.
Gay rights advocates said they would
press forward with a cohabitation partnerships bill, which offers
similar rights and enjoys broader support, if voters had killed the
civil unions bill.