Mon, Jul 23, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Draft constitution opens path to gay marriage in Cuba

Reuters, HAVANA

A placard opposing gay marriage — “I’m in favour of the original design, the family as God created it” — is posted on a pole in Havana on Thursday last week.

Photo: Reuters

The draft of Cuba’s new constitution opens the path to same-sex marriage, a government official said on Saturday, which would make the country that once persecuted homosexuals an unlikely leader in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

In the early years of former Cuban president Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, many homosexuals were sent to correctional labor camps, part of an institutionalized homophobia for which Castro later apologized.

However, communist-run Cuba has made great strides over the past decade on LGBT rights, approving sex-change operations and banning workplace discrimination, partly thanks to the high-profile advocacy of Castro’s niece Mariela Castro.

Proposals to recognize same-sex unions had stalled in view of the slow legislative process and lingering stigma in the macho society.

That is to start to change with the new constitution that is to replace Cuba’s 1976 Soviet-era Magna Carta, Cuban Secretary of the Council of State Homero Acosta told lawmakers.

The draft, elaborated by a commission headed by former Cuban president Raul Castro — Mariela Castro’s father — defines matrimony as between two individuals rather than between a man and a woman, he said.

“The possibility of marriage between two people strengthens our project’s principles of equality and justice,” Acosta told lawmakers, adding that further legal changes would be needed to allow for gay marriage.

The move reflects a trend in Latin America where same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and some parts of Mexico, despite church opposition.

However, the battle has not yet been won, Cuban LGBT rights activist Isbel Diaz Torres said on social media.

While the national assembly was expected to approve the draft constitution over the weekend, it would then be submitted to a popular consultation, and final draft would be put to a national referendum.

“We will continue in the streets until the final process of the constitutional reform,” Diaz Torres said. “And after the constitutional modification has been approved, we must ensure that same-sex marriage is approved.”

Grassroots campaigns for and against gay marriage have made it the most broadly debated proposed constitutional modification.

Five evangelical denominations last month shared a statement on social media declaring marriage “exclusively the union of a man and a woman, according to the Bible.”

Churches also plastered neighborhoods with anti-gay marriage posters, such as one reading: “I am in favor of the original design — the family as God created it,” showing a heterosexual couple with a boy and a girl.

LGBT rights activists fought back with their own posters, such as one reading: “I am in favor of Cuban design — a very original family,” showing a panoply of different family configurations including same-sex unions.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top