A legislator in Costa Rica is facing calls to resign after he physically attacked an advisor to a fellow lawmaker during a break in a legislative session, according to reports.
National Liberation Party (PLN) Deputy David Gourzong was one of 24 conservative lawmakers who earlier this week petitioned their country’s Supreme Court to delay the legal recognition of marriage equality due to take place later this month. After learning of disparaging comments made in a chat by Giancarlo Casasola regarding his last-minute vote against the impending law, Gourzong angrily told his fellow legislators of his intentions. He then sought out and violently attacked Casasola, who is the aide to PLN Secretary General and fellow legislator Gustavo Viales.
An angry Viales challenged Gourzon's integrity and demanded he resign rather than face both a criminal and internal investigation that would forcibly remove him from office, according to La Nacion.
Gourzon issued a qualified apology via Facebook, but was adamant he would not resign.
“I state categorically that I will not resign my seat and that I will face responsibility for my actions," he wrote. "I reject the claims that I agree to resign my position.”
He also sought to portray himself as the victim by announcing he was filing charges against the man he assaulted despite claiming that “insults should not lead to violence.”
“But I announce that I will be taking administrative and legal actions against official Giancarlo Casasola, because it is not appropriate for an advisor to dare to insult deputies and deputies, as he did, by virtue of a difference of opinion," he wrote.
The events of this week take place against a backdrop of the impending recognition of marriage equality as the country approaches its centennial next year.
In 2016, Costa Rica's then-president Luis Guillermo Solis asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San Jose, to rule on same-sex. Two years later, that court ruled that all its signatory countries must grant same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex ones. Despite this ruling, the Superior Notarial Council of Costa Rica refused to issue licenses until the Supreme Court or legislative assembly lifted the nation's legal ban on the practice.
In August 2018, the Supreme Court ruled legislators had 18 months to legalize same-sex marriage after the court's ruling was published on November 26, 2018. If no action was taken, then marriage equality would automatically become the law of the land after that period on May 26 of this year.
On Tuesday, a group of legislators petitioned the Supreme Court to delay the automatic enactment of law claiming that current events had prevented enough time to review the court’s decision. Gourzong was one of only three PLN members to sign the petition. The petition would need 38 votes to bring their motion forward, which is unlikely to happen.