Costa Rica votes for a new president amid tension over LGBTI rights

  • Costa Rica votes for a new president amid tension over LGBTI rights

Costa Rica votes for a new president amid tension over LGBTI rights

Conservative Christian singer and TV personality Fabricio Alvarado skyrocketed to the top of the 13-person field after speaking out against a January ruling by the region's top human rights court calling on Costa Rica to give equal civil marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

Fabricio Alvarado, leader of the National Restoration Party, and Carlos Alvarado of the incumbent Citizen's Action Party, will head to a second run-off vote, the results revealed on Sunday, reports Efe news.

With almost 87 percent of the ballots counted late Sunday, Fabricio Alvarado, an evangelical whose political stock soared after he came out strongly against same-sex marriage, had 24.8 percent of the vote.

Fabricio Alavarado, a journalist, preacher and Christian singer, recently vaulted into the top in opinion polls after he openly opposed same-sex marriage, which almost two-thirds Costa Ricans also stand against.

Political analyst Francisco Barahona told The Associated Press that the gay marriage ruling came as an "external shock" for Costa Rica, a majority Roman Catholic nation with an increasing evangelical population.

"We have to stand up to those who want to trample on the family", he said at the campaign's final debate, threatening to pull out of the court over its resolution.

The expert added that this polarizing issue had also favored Carlos Alvarado, the official candidate, who has expressed support for gay marriage.

Fabricio Alvarado, the conservative frontrunner, has pledged to withdraw the country from the court's jurisdiction in order to protect what many view as Costa Rica's traditional values.

Quesada, who hails from President Guillermo Solis' Citizens' Action Party, notched the second-place finish - with 21 percent of the votes - and will contest the second round of voting.

With so many candidates, a runoff seemed likely heading into the election.

Lariza Salmeron (R) watches her mother Mariela Cervantes as she prepares to cast her vote, at a polling station set up at Carlos Sanabria elementary school in San Jose, during Costa Rica's national election, on February 04, 2018.

Alvarez, a two-time president of the Legislative Assembly and a Cabinet minister under the first presidency of Oscar Arias in 1986-1990, said he opposes gay marriage but backs recognizing certain other rights for gay couples. "That must be the task that guides us in the coming days and weeks on a path to win this election".

"They say the government is broke and to fix that they are going to impose more taxes on us", Morales said shortly before polls closed Sunday evening. "It is something I had never seen in so many years of political life".

Voters will also be selecting the 57 delegates that make up the Assembly.