Cuba overwhelmingly approves same-sex marriage in referendum

New code also would allow surrogate pregnancies, broader rights for grandparents and measures against gender violence.

Cuba vote
More than 3.9 million voters, or 66.9 percent, voted to ratify the new 'family law' code, the National Electoral Council said [Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters]

Cubans have overwhelmingly approved a sweeping “family law” that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt, the electoral commission said, in a move that will also redefine rights for children and grandparents.

More than 3.9 million voters – 66.9 percent – voted to ratify the new code while 1.95 million or 33 percent were opposed, National Electoral Council President Alina Balseiro Gutierrez said on state-run television on Monday.

The 100-page “family code” legalises same-sex marriage and civil unions, allows same-sex couples to adopt children, and promotes equal sharing of domestic rights and responsibilities between men and women.

Preliminary results from the electoral commission showed 74 percent of 8.4 million Cubans eligible to vote participated in the Sunday referendum.

“Love is now the law,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel wrote on Twitter on Monday morning.

“It is paying off a debt with several generations of Cuban men and women, whose family projects have been waiting for this law for years,” he said. “As of today, we will be a better nation.”

Translation: Yes has won. Justice has been done. To approve the Family code is to do justice. It is paying off a debt with several generations of Cuban men and women, whose family projects have been waiting for this law for years. As of today, we will be a better nation.

The reforms had met unusually strong open resistance from a growing evangelical movement in Cuba — and many other Cubans — despite an extensive government campaign in favour of the measure.

That push included thousands of informative meetings across the country and extensive media coverage backing it.

Cuban elections, in which no party other than the Communist is allowed, routinely produce victory margins of more than 90 percent — as did a referendum on a major constitutional reform in 2019.

The “family law” measure had been approved by Cuba’s parliament, the National Assembly, after years of debate about such reforms.

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

Diaz-Canel, who has promoted the law, acknowledged questions about the measure 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.

Cuba's President
Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel speaking to journalists after casting his vote at a polling station during the referendum in Havana, Cuba [Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo]

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

But there is a strong strain of social conservatism in Cuba and several religious leaders have expressed concern or opposition to the law, worrying it could weaken nuclear families.

While Cuba was officially atheist for decades after the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro, it has become more tolerant of religions over the past quarter century.

That has meant a greater opening not only to the once-dominant Roman Catholic Church, but also to Afro-Cuban religions, protestants and Muslims.

Some of those churches took advantage of the opening in 2018 and 2019 to campaign against another plebiscite that would have rewritten the constitution in a way to allow gay marriage.

Opposition was strong enough that the government at that time backed away.

Source: News Agencies