Cuba approves same-sex marriage and a progressive family code
Cubans have approved by more than 66% in a referendum a new progressive Family Code that legalizes same-sex marriage, surrogacy and extended parentage.
• Read also: Cuba: end of the ballot for the referendum on gay marriage
The text approved on Sunday was widely supported by the communist government and the vote in favor of the « yes » vote has been the subject of an intense official campaign in recent weeks, in the streets, on television and on social networks.
The « yes » received 66.87% of the vote against 33.13% of the votes for the « no », the highest percentage of negative votes ever reached in a referendum, according to almost final results announced Monday by the Council national electoral system (CEN). « The family code has been approved by the people, » said its president, Alina Balseiro.
“The + yes + won. Justice has been done (…) It is a question of settling a debt towards several generations of Cubans, whose family projects have been waiting for this law for years”, welcomed President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Twitter.
Turnout stood at 74.01%, according to the electoral authority, which still had to validate the results in around thirty constituencies.
This rate is down from the previous 2019 referendum on the new Constitution, approved by 86.85% of voters with a turnout of 90.15%.
« The + yes + won by a lower score compared to other elections, but with a really large margin », underlined Arturo Lopez-Levy, Cuban political scientist at Holy Names University, in California (United States). .
The new code, which replaces the previous one dating from 1975 on Monday, legalizes homosexual marriage and authorizes homoparental adoption.
It strengthens the rights of children, the elderly and the disabled, and introduces the possibility of legally recognizing several fathers and mothers, in addition to the biological parents. It authorizes non-profit surrogacy.
Saily Ramirez, a 31-year-old executive assistant, welcomed the passage of the new law. “In my family, I have different cases related to the (family) code. I have a cousin who couldn’t get pregnant and I would have liked to be her + surrogate + at that time,” she told AFP.
“All his rights”
Cuba, where the government ostracized homosexuals in the 1960s and 1970s before making amends, now has the most progressive legislation in Latin America.
« We won!! Cuba has its Family Code. It is now a question of enforcing it”, reacted on Twitter the gay activist Maykel Gonzalez Vivero.
The poll was held as the country of 11.2 million people is going through a deep economic crisis and is facing record emigration.
More than a year ago, in July 2021, historic protests to cries of “We are hungry” and “Freedom” also rocked the island.
President Diaz-Canel acknowledged on Sunday « that for such complex issues, where there is a diversity of personal criteria », and in a difficult economic context, « people can have a sanction vote ».
Following the July 2021 protests, around 500 people have been sentenced, in some cases up to 25 years in prison.
Opponents of the government were also divided over the new law, some supporting the text while disassociating themselves from power, others calling for voting against or abstaining.
For the dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua, one should not “interpret this vote as support for the regime”. « Many activists in the LGBT community want profound change and have seen (…) an almost unique opportunity to advance certain rights, » he told AFP.
« The total of the vote against and the abstention is almost equal, if not greater, to the total of those who voted + yes + », he added.
The American embassy in Havana hailed on Twitter « the decision of the Cuban people » in favor of equal marriage and adoption for all. “But that doesn’t change the undemocratic nature of the Cuban regime. The Cuban people deserve to have all their human rights respected,” she added.