Cuba Approves Same-Sex Marriage in Historic Vote

The wide, 100-page law includes measures to strengthen rights for women, children, and the elderly, and will also make it possible for same-sex couples to adopt. In a resounding triumph for proponents of L.G.B.T.Q. rights in a country that once deported gay men to labour camps, Cubans approved a comprehensive referendum that would enable same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, the national electoral commission said on Monday.

The Cuban government claims that approximately 4 million people (or 67 percent of voters) voted in favour. Roughly 2 million people, or 33%, were against it. After the 100-page referendum was approved, President Miguel Dz-Canel, the first non-Castro to lead Cuba since its 1959 revolution, said that “love is now the law.” He explained that passing the measure would “pay a debt to various generations of Cubans whose domestic plans had been waiting for years for this law.”

He then emphasised, “As of today, we will be a better nation.” Even though the 100-page referendum includes new safeguards for women, children, and the elderly, it was met with hostility from the Roman Catholic Church. However, unlike other government-backed proposals in Cuba, which often obtain well over 90% approval, this one did not garner almost 100% support.

Alberto R. Coll, a law professor at DePaul University and an expert on U.S. relations with Cuba, explains that the opposition stems from a combination of a burgeoning evangelical movement and an established machismo tradition in Cuba. Professor Coll argued that the initiative should have failed, but that it did pass because many locals felt that “these are topics that the law should not regulate severely” and that the time had come for it.

In recent years, other Latin American governments have also taken action to protect LGBT citizens. In 2020, same-sex marriage will be legal in Costa Rica, after a 2019 ruling by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador that same-sex couples may marry. Mr. Daz-Canel and his administration had publicly advocated for the referendum’s success. However, his detractors argue that his vote was only an attempt to appear moderate in the face of growing political and economic unrest on the island.

Cuba is Gay
Cuba is Gay

The greatest financial crisis since the 1990s has slammed the country, and officials have had to cope with demands for political and social changes on top of it. Those causes fueled the island’s greatest protests in decades last year. Professor Coll remarked, “This has been a way for him to say, ‘Look, you know, we’re not that repressive.'” Even bringing the measure to a vote, an unprecedented move in the country, angered some L.G.B.T.Q. rights activists.

Human Rights Watch researchers Juan Pappier and Cristian González Cabrera argued in a column that the Cuban government’s practise of “the political pageantry of putting individual rights, including the right of gay and lesbian couples to be free from discrimination to a popularity vote,” was inappropriate. According to the group, “authorities are exposing basic rights to a political game between proponents for equality and nondiscrimination and its opponents.”

The law, while not perfect, represented a radical shift from the prevailing culture in the country. There was a time when the Cuban authorities saw homosexuality as a perilous deviation from the norm. Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government sent gay men to labour camps as a measure of punishment and force to conform, contributing to a wave of homophobia on the island in the 1960s.

His niece, Mariela Castro, is the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education and a staunch advocate for L.G.B.T.Q. rights. She voiced her satisfaction with the new legislation. On this island of liberty, she declared, “Now, love is law.” Surrogate pregnancies are legal, and the law protects women from violence and requires that couples divide up household chores fairly.

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