Things That Matter

Cubans Are Divided On Possibility The Country Could Soon Allow Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is now legal across thirty countries: from Argentina to Taiwan to Canada, and the European Union. However, in far too many countries same-sex couples are still denied the right to marry one another, or worse, homosexuality remains banned in many parts of the world.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, another country is emerging as the latest battleground for marriage equality: Cuba. The socialist island has long been accused of abusing human rights and has a long history of demonizing members of the LGBTQ community. Now, as the island gets ready to potentially introduce marriage equality, many on both sides of the battle are preparing for a fight.

A draft version of new family code paves the way for possibility of marriage equality in Cuba.

Unlike many countries, no clause in the Cuban constitution prohibits same-sex marriage. In fact, three years ago the socialist government came close to enshrining gay marriage protections in the new constitution until it was met with strong resistance from the island’s evangelical groups.

But now, as the country debates a new family code that proposes allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, the debate is reigniting with fierce opinions on both sides of the debate. The preliminary version of the new code must be approved by Cuba’s parliament before going to the public for a vote.

The new draft contains more than 480 different articles and was written by a team of 30 legal scholars, according to the Associated Press. After it’s opened up for public opinion, the draft code would be sent to lawmakers for their approval, and a popular vote would likely take place next year.

“We consider this version to be consistent with the constitutional text, and develop and update the various legal-family institutions in correspondence with the humanistic nature of our social process,” Justice Minister Oscar Silveira Martínez said in announcing the draft.

For many LGBTQ Cubans, the idea of submitting their right to marriage to a vote is painful.

In a statement to the AP, Adiel González, a 31-year-old theologian, says it’s painful to think that the future of his relationship rests with a heterosexual majority.

“You are submitting to the vote of a heterosexual, heteronormative majority the rights of a minority,” he said.

Cuba has long been staunchly and officially atheist for decades – ever since the 1959 revolution that swept Fidel Castro to power. But over the last two decades, the island has become more accepting of religion. The once-dominant Roman Catholic Church is also no longer the only player on the island, with Afro-Cuban religions, protestants, and Muslims all vying for power.

That scramble for control was on full display in 2018 and 2019 during a campaign against another referendum that would have rewritten the constitution in a way to allow gay marriage.

Assemblies of God General Secretary Julio César Sánchez told the AP that such unions would be “the result of sin.”

“The argument that they should be regularized because they exist is not valid,” he said, “because murder also exists… that doesn’t mean it’s good.”

But one thing is for sure, the government is more receptive than ever to the LGBTQ community.

Just two weeks ago, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel met with more than a dozen LGBTQ activists. The president had invited the meeting to take place at Havana’s Palace of the Revolution. The Cuban government even tweeted pictures of the meeting, showing just how important it was.

Officially, both Mariela Castro (the daughter of Fidel Castro) and President Díaz-Canel both publicly support marriage rights for same-sex couples. Now it’s just a matter of support among ordinary Cubans who will likely vote on the future of same-sex relationships in 2022.

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