Cuba approves same-sex marriage in unusual referendum

Cubans have approved a sweeping “family law” code that will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt as well as redefine the rights of children and grandparents, officials said Monday, although opposition to the national referendum was unusually strong against the Communist Party. island.

The measure – which contains more than 400 articles – was approved by 66.9% to 33.1%, National Electoral Council President Alina Balseiro Gutiérrez told state media, although feedback from a few places remains to be seen. count.

The reforms had been met with unusually strong open resistance from the growing evangelical movement in Cuba – and many other Cubans – despite an extensive government campaign for the measure, including thousands of briefings across the country and extensive media coverage supporting it.

Cuban elections – in which no party other than the communist is allowed – regularly produce victory margins of more than 90% – as does a referendum on major constitutional reform in 2019.

The code allows for surrogate pregnancies, broader rights for grandparents with respect to grandchildren, protections for the elderly and measures against gender-based violence.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who promoted the law, acknowledged questions about the measure during his vote on Sunday.

“Most of our fellow citizens will vote for the code, but there are still issues that our society as a whole doesn’t understand,” he said.

On Monday, he celebrated the measure’s approval, tweeting “Love is now the law.”

The passage “is to pay a debt to various generations of Cubans whose national plans have been waiting for this law for years,” he added. “From today we will be a better nation.”

The measure had been approved by the Cuban parliament, the National Assembly, after years of debate on these reforms.

One of the main supporters of the measure was Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education, promoter of the rights of same-sex couples, daughter of former President Raul Castro and niece of his brother Fidel.

But there is a strong trend of social conservatism in Cuba, and several religious leaders have expressed concern or opposition to the law, fearing it will weaken nuclear families.

While Cuba was officially – and often militantly – atheist for decades after the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro – Raul’s brother – it has become more tolerant of religions over the past quarter century. This meant greater openness not only to the once-dominant Roman Catholic Church, but also to Afro-Cuban religions, Protestants and Muslims.

Some of these churches used the opening in 2018 and 2019 to campaign against another plebiscite that would have rewritten the constitution to allow same-sex marriage.

The opposition was strong enough for the government of the day to back down.

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