Mon | Dec 5, 2022

Cuba holds rare referendum on law allowing same-sex marriage

Published:Sunday | September 25, 2022 | 3:43 PM
Cuba's President Miguel Diaz Canel walks with his wife Lis Cuesta Peraza before casting his vote at a polling station during the new Family Code referendum in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, September 25, 2022. The draft of the new Family Code, which has more than 480 articles, was drawn up by a team of 30 experts, and it is expected to replace the current one that dates from 1975 and has been overtaken by new family structures and social changes. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba held a rare referendum Sunday on an unusually contentious law — a government-backed “family law” code that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt, as well as outlining the rights of children and grandparents.

Cuba holds parliamentary elections every two years, though no party other than the Communist is allowed, but seldom has it held referendums on specific laws.

And seldom has an officially backed measure met as much open criticism as the family law of more than 400 articles, which has been questioned by many members of the island's increasingly vocal evangelical community.

The sweeping code also would allow surrogate pregnancies, broader rights for grandparents in regard to grandchildren, protection of the elderly and measures against gender violence.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who has promoted the law acknowledged resistance as he voted on Sunday.

“Most of our people will vote in favour of the code, but it still has issues that our society as a whole does not understand,” he said.

The measure was approved by Cuba's Parliament, the National Assembly, following thousands of government-organised information sessions this year in neighbourhoods across the country.

A major supporter of the measure is Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education, a promoter of rights for same-sex couples, daughter of former President Raul Castro and niece of his brother Fidel.

But there's a strong strain of social conservatism in Cuba, where evangelical churches have been growing. Several religious leaders have expressed concern or opposition to the law., worrying it could weaken nuclear families.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.