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Cuba accepts new Families Code, approves same-sex marriage, women’s rights

By Jonce Palmer

The people of Cuba have voted on a series of changes to their Families Code that will provide legal same-sex marriages and unions, adoption rights for same-sex couples, and an updated set of women’s and families’ rights. Other amendments to this document include promote equitable sharing of domestic responsibilities, prenuptial agreements, and assisted pregnancies.

The vote was cast vastly in favor of the new code, with 66.87% of participants voting for the code with a turnout rate of 74.01% ,according to the Communist Party newspaper Granma. Granma reported in March that 54% of attendees of these town halls are in support of the proposed Code, but more than a third of these discussions had yet to take place.

The law was supported in large part by the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), a governmental organ founded in 1989 to research and provide sexual education to the public. The Center is recognized worldwide for its advocacy of LGBTQ issues. For instance, the Center was instrumental in the passage of a law in 2008 that provided transgender Cubans with gender-affirming healthcare free of charge, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and gender confirmation surgery (GCS). CENESEX is led by Mariela Castro, daughter of former Communist Party First Secretary Raul Castro and well-known activist fighting for women’s and LGBTQ rights.

As political contradictions in Cuba continue to develop, the struggle of the Cuban people with certain religious and “machista” ideologies deepens. The Cuban Roman Catholic Church has been a major belligerent in the fight to keep LGBTQ rights on the island from being realized, claiming that the proposal is filled with “gender ideology” which undermines parents’ ability to properly supervise their children and will encourage “indoctrination of children in schools without parental consent.”

The Families Code was introduced in Cuba in 1975 and was immediately followed the next year by the first Constitution approved by the Cuban people since the revolution. While there have been amendments to the Constitution over the decades, a new Constitution was approved in 2019.

The first Constitution of revolutionary Cuba was voted on and debated through a series of over 100,000 town hall meetings of ordinary citizens who went over the various amendments line-by-line so that every participant could understand the legal changes to the fullest extent. It was finally codified into law in 1976. The most recent constitution was approved by the public in 2019. Changes in discrimination policy added protections based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity were included in the 2019 Constitution, as well as providing a gender-neutral definition of marriage. Unfortunately, an article to legalize same-sex marriage was proposed and later removed.

The 100-page Code was put under the same town hall scrutiny of hundreds of thousands of Cuban citizens, and was redrafted over 20 times before the final vote.

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