The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has ruled that several countries that it has jurisdiction over should treat same-sex couples “without discrimination.”

A landmark ruling by the IACHR has said that 20 Caribbean, Central and Southern America countries that have signed the American Convention on Human Rights need to legalise same-sex marriage.

The countries that signed are Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay. Out of these countries, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay have already legalised same-sex marriage, and Costa Rica will be soon to follow.

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The ruling ordered that all of the countries “guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination.”

In a statement complying with the ruling, the Costa Rican government said: “Love is a human condition that should be respected, without discrimination of any kind.

“The State confirms its commitment to comply.”

Costa Rica’s Vice President Ana Helena Chacón called the move “an historic day”, saying: “The Inter-American Court vindicates the rights of LGBTI persons under the American Convention, and reminds all the states of their responsibility and historical moral obligation to this population.”

She then took to Twitter to further praise the ruling, writing: “Even in the darkest corners of our continent, the future generations of LGBTI people will have equality, equal opportunities to develop their own projects of life, and happiness to grow without fear.”

Guillaume Paumier via Flickr

Despite the ruling, the move could still face some obstacles, least of all in Barbados, where same-sex activity is still punishable by life imprisonment, although this is usually not enforced. And although same-sex activity is legal in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Paraguay and Peru, there are no laws preventing discrimination against LGBTQ people.

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The court recommended that these rights should be locked in with temporary measures, while the governments go through the process of making them permanent.

The ruling also called on the countries to allow transgender individuals to change their names on identity documents.

This move mirrors the great strides made in LGBTQ equality made in Southern America in recent years, as Colombia legalised same-sex marriage back in 2016, and the Chilean government introduced a bill to legalise same-sex marriages and adoptions last year.