Cuba’s National Assembly Approves Referendum On Marriage Equality

Cuba same-sex marriage referendum to be held in September.

Cuba took a big step forward in protecting the rights of its citizens. Justice Minister Oscar Manuel Silvera introduced the new Family Code, which was officially presented last year, in the National Assembly. It will replace the 47-year-old code and provide new protections for children, the elderly, and other family members in general. One of the key changes includes legalizing same-sex marriage. 

Silvera said the new family code promotes "love, affection, care, sensitivity, respect for others and the harmony of our families."

The new family code has been a hot topic of debate in the country for many months. After a large public consultation was held earlier this year, it was decided that the matter will be put to a referendum on September 25, 2022. The National Assembly confirmed this date last week. 

"The final decision will be left in the hands of the people," but "we are convinced that in due time, the majority of the Cuban people will endorse this revolutionary, inclusive and democratic code," said the National Assembly's secretary.

Let's hope so because this new family code would greatly open the door for LGBTQ rights.

Marriage, Civil Union, And Adoption For All 

Not only the new family code will legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, but it will also allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

For many married couples, the ability to jointly claim legal and financial benefits is an important part of their relationship. However, same-sex couples in Cuba have long been denied this right. As Gabriela Alfonso and her wife, Rita Acosta Cruz, point out, it is simply a matter of fairness. They already live as a married couple in every sense of the word, so why shouldn't they have the same legal rights? 

"We are a marriage. We have the plans together, the economy together. It is not fair that this possibility does not exist," Acosta Cruz said.

"The opportunity it gives us is that of marriage," Gabriela Alfonso added. "The fact of being able to opt together for certain things and certain legal procedures that we need as a couple and not as independent people."

This code would level the playing field and ensure that all couples are treated equally under the law.

In 2019, Cuban activists attempted to include same-sex marriage in the country's constitution. However, the amendment had finally been withdrawn because of strong opposition from some Catholic churches and conservative groups that lobbied.

New Parenting And Family Law: What Are The Changes? 

The new code will also allow surrogate motherhood, as long as it is not done for profit. It will also encourage the equal sharing of domestic responsibilities and give greater rights to women.

If passed, the bill would also have far-reaching implications for the way parenting is understood and practiced in Cuba. The change in language from "custody" to "responsibility" would be a profound shift, one that would underscore the importance of shared parenting and equal involvement.

The new language also emphasizes the importance of respecting "the dignity and physical and mental integrity of children and adolescents". The authors of the bill hope that this will help create a more positive and supportive parenting environment.

Will Cuba Become The 8th Latin American Country To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage? 

If the referendum on same-sex marriage in Cuba passes, it would be a major victory for LGBTQ rights in the region. Cuba would become the eighth country in Latin America to allow marriage equality, joining Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Chile. (I am not including Mexico here because, even though its federal capital has legalized marriage equality and the majority of its states have followed suit, there are still some areas where it is not legal). 

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Friday, 24 March 2023