The Cuban people will be asked to vote on whether to redefine marriage as ‘the consensual union of two people, regardless of gender’, following a decision by the country’s parliament to accept draft changes to the country’s constitution.
Currently, the Cuban Constitution defines marriage as the ‘voluntary union between a man and woman’.
“With this proposal for constitutional regulation, Cuba puts itself among the world’s leading countries in terms of recognizing and guaranteeing human rights,” said deputy Mariela Castro Espin, the daughter of former president Raúl Castro and an active spokesperson for LGBT+ rights.
The draft constitution does not explicitly address the question of whether gay couples can adopt children, although experts say this will now likely be possible.
Castro Espin, who heads Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education and led the pro-gay marriage campaign, said the changes should ultimately allow adoption rights. “The state must guarantee all families this right and the means to reach these ends,” she added.
Castro Espin is a niece of Fidel Castro, who oversaw the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP) between 1965 and 1968. These units were forced labour camps designed to “re-educate” anyone the Castro regime considered to be against the government, such as criminals, political and religious dissidents and gay people. As estimated 30,000 individuals were sent to the camps, including 800 members of the LGBT+ community.
As reported by EL PAÍS, LGBT+ activist Isbel Torres said Cuba is still “a pretty homophobic country, more so in the countryside than in the capital.
“But there is a lot of homophobia, especially transphobia, and within the police and army this homophobia is expressed in a terrible way. At school as well. Homophobic bullying is very common and there is no type of prevention.”
Public consultation and debate on the draft changes to the constitution will take place between August and November, and then Cuba will hold a referendum, becoming the first country to ask voters to approve the insertion of gay marriage into its constitution since Ireland did so in 2015.
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