11th hour

Costa Rica President Oscar Arias Waits Until He’s Out the Door to Endorse Gay Unions

A week before he leaves office, Costa Rica’s President Oscar Arias has made his most grand pronouncement of support for gay rights yet. Uh, yea?

“One does not choose sexual orientation,” Arias says. “This is given by the nature or God. One does not choose, neither men nor women.” It was part of his call to have Costa Rica recognize same-sex unions, in a country where, up until 2002, “scandalous sodomy” was still a crime. (In 2006, the country’s Supreme Court rejected an argument that the Constitution requires recognition of gay marriages.)

Not that any of this does much for Costa Rica’s gays; Arias is just biding his time before president-elect Laura Chinchilla takes over, and she’s made it pretty clear she won’t be making LGBT rights a priority. In his last week in office, Arias is in “legacy building” mode. And his official biographers will now be able to quote his vociferous support for gay unions as they brand him a civil rights hero.