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‘We Choose to Lead by Example.’ Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada on Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

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This May, Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage. During a TIME100 Talks session with correspondent Justin Worland, Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada discussed the journey that led to this moment of change.

“There’s a set of rights that cover all of the people around the world and it’s a worldview and a global ethic,” he said. “So in terms of egalitarian marriage, it’s a way to protect the community of LGBTQ people, but it’s also a way to reinforce not only one specific right, but the strength of the whole set of rights. It’s a message of equality and of respect. and was the key message we tried to send.”

When asked if he’s had conversations with other leaders whose countries haven’t yet legalized same-sex marriage, Quesada doubled down on his convictions. “We choose to lead by example,” he said.

In the wide-ranging interview, Quesada also addressed his country’s response to COVID-19, which has resulted in a low mortality rate. Quesada, who appeared on the TIME 100 Next list last fall, also talked about his commitment to fighting climate change, and how that intersects with the global pandemic. “We need to have a more integral approach that takes into account climate change, inclusion, gender,” he said. “It’s a great catalyst to think about building a new world.”

This article is part of #TIME100Talks: Finding Hope, a special series featuring leaders across different fields encouraging action toward a better world. Want more? Sign up for access to more virtual events, including live conversations with influential newsmakers.

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