Costa Rica’s president has flown a pride flag above his residence, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, who took office just last week following a landslide victory against the incumbent National Liberation Party, spoke to crowds outside as the flag was hoisted by Vice President Ana Helena Chacón.

He said: “This is the house of all Costa Ricans. When we say all Costa Ricans we mean all, without exclusion, without violence, without harassment in absolute respect for the rights of each one.”

“We’re fighting against discrimination in defense of the human rights of all Costa Ricans.”

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, it is thought to be the first time a pride flag had been flown from the offices of a head of state in the Americas.

Chacón has previously said that LGBT rights – including property and inheritance law reform, hospital visitation rights and insurance benefits would be a priority for the new government in its first wave of legislation

Marco Castillo, president of LGBT advocacy group Diversity Movement told the Tico Times he hoped the bill was a sign of things to come, as a civil union bill is working its way through the Legislative Assembly.

He said: “We [have seen] a sign of hope today but we hope it becomes reality.”

Despite some support in recent years, there are very few protections for LGBT people in Costa Rica, partly due to the strong influence of the Catholic church in the country.

Same-sex relationships are not recognised and gay adoption is illegal, and there are no hate crime laws or protections from discrimination.