Cuba Could Get Marriage Equality as Soon as This Year

Cuba Could Get Marriage Equality as Soon as This Year

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Marriage equality in Cuba could soon be a reality. Cuba is getting a new constitution, and, among other changes, it explicitly defines marriage as “the consensual union of two people, regardless of gender.” Not only that, but the change has the backing of former Cuban President Raúl Castro.

In fact, Castro (the brother of Fidel), is the head of the constitutional re-writing committee. His daughter, Mariela Castro, is also a lawmaker and the director of Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education (or CENESEX). Mariela Castro has been fighting for marriage equality in Cuba since 2007. There’ve been bills that would legalize same-sex marriage in the past, but, unfortunately, they stalled in Parliament.

Mariela Castro, photo by Steve Russell via the Toronto Star

This time, however, Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the current draft of the constitution. It’ll be put to a referendum later this year.

Religious groups in Cuba are pushing against the marriage equality reform. Five groups published an open letter condemning the move, writing “marriage is exclusively the union of man and woman” and “the ideology of gender has no relation with our culture, our struggles, or with the historic leaders of the Revolution.”

While Cuba is becoming more progressive when it comes to LGBTQ rights, it wasn’t always the case. Under Fidel Castro, gay men were put into work camps and HIV-positive people were quarantined in sanitariums. Today, however, homosexuality is decriminalized (and has been since 1997), and trans Cubans have been able to get free gender confirmation surgery since 2008.

Other additions to the proposed constitution include presidential term limits and an age requirement — presidents must be younger than 60 years old at the start of their first term. The new constitution also recognizes private property, though according to the official newspaper Granma, the constitution “retains the essential principles of socialist ownership by the people over the basic means of production and central planning as a principal component.”

With a highly likelihood of marriage equality in Cuba being legalized, will that lead to a domino effect throughout Latin America?

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