Costa Rica's top court blocks civil union referendum, says it put gays at disadvantage

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Costa Rica's top court has blocked the electoral tribunal from holding a referendum that would have let voters decide if same-sex civil unions should be allowed in the Central American country.

The Constitutional Court's 5-2 decision released Tuesday says such a referendum would put a minority at a disadvantage in a largely Roman Catholic country. It also says gay civil unions is a legislative issue and not an electoral one.

The court says it considers homosexuals a group that is at a disadvantage and the target for discrimination, requiring government authorities to protect their rights.

The electoral tribunal had planned to hold the referendum Dec. 5, when Costa Rica also is holding municipal elections.