Costa Rica Hosts a Conference on Latin America’s acceptance of Same-sex Marriage.

It’s the first such event in the region. 40 experts and activists are going to participate in the meeting.

The hope is to open a legal and constitutional discussion on discrimination based on sexual orientation, one that is long overdue. Same-sex couples face unequal treatment in Costa Rica and the Latin American region.

The approval of a bill to legalize civil unions between homosexual couples in Costa Rica is pending. If passed, it would allow inheritance rights, mutual financing and visits to hospitals.

Public institutions are implementing a series of actions to recognize the rights of this population.

For instance, the CCSS has given access to a widow’s pension to same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage gaining ground in Latin America

Gays and lesbians can legally marry in the U.S., Canada, Mexico City and several Mexican states, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barts, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. The governments of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten recognize same-sex marriages that are performed in the Netherlands.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in August introduced a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in her country. The Panamanian Supreme Court over the summer heard oral arguments in a case that would allow gays and lesbians to legally marry.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Panamanian First Lady Lorena Castillo are among the prominent Latin American politicians and officials who support the issue. Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBT-specific issues as director of her country’s National Center for Sexual Education, has also publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Cuban activists who work independently of Mariela Castro and her organization, which is known by the acronym CENESEX, in recent years have sought to promote the issue on the Communist island. Neither Mariela Castro nor CENESEX has publicly commented on these efforts.