The social security system in Costa Rica will be extended to offer medical benefits to same-sex couples.

The board of directors of the country’s social security system, or Caja, voted unanimously on Thursday evening to offer the extension.

Up to three months will now be taken to implement the changes, which will allow same-sex couples to have equal health insurance protections and hospital visitation rights.

Costa Rica’s president last week flew a pride flag above his residence, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. He has however said he does not support same-sex marriage.

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.