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Conscientious objection and hormonal treatments: Part I

The United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (‘SOGI Expert’) recently published his report regarding the relationship between the right to freedom of religion or belief, and the freedom to live free from violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The report addresses, among others, the conscientious objection invoked in medical services, including hormonal treatments.

The report indicates that many professionals in the health sector around the world deny the provision of hormonal treatments to trans people because they consider it contrary to their convictions. In this context, the SOGI Expert notes in his report that international human rights standards do not allow the invocation of conscientious objection to deny the provision of medical services. He also adds that objections of this nature considerably restrict the spaces in which LGBTQI+ people, especially trans people, can access these indispensable services.

In our country, unfortunately the Constitutional Court has endorsed as constitutional that a judicial officer refuses to officiate a marriage because it is contrary to his/her convictions. According to the Constitutional Court, this is a valid exercise of the conscientious objection. If this objection is invoked in the provision of hormonal treatments, what could happen?

The denial of an essential public service (such as the provision of hormonal treatments) due to conscientious objection could be considered a violation of the user’s human rights. Therefore, a person in this situation could go before the Constitutional Court to request judicial protection through writ of amparo. However, the position of the Constitutional Court regarding conscientious objection suggests that other legal elements addressed in the SOGI Expert’s report should be assessed. In the next blog we address them.

At CELIG we provide specialized services to the LGBTQI+ community. If you want more information or make an appointment with us, call us at 4800-0248 or write to

We are located in San José, Barrio Escalante.

M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas

CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation