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Cuba could pave the way for marriage equality with proposed change to country's family code

A new draft of the country's family code has removed the specification that marriage is between a man and a woman.

2021-09-16

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

Gay marriage could become legal in Cuba in the next year, as a draft of the country’s new family code has removed the idea of marriage being between a man and a woman.

Same-sex couples may also be able to adopt children, with children also getting a greater say in decisions applying to them. The current law has existed in the country since 1975.

The draft, which was released on Wednesday (15 September) and is just a preliminary document at the moment, comes three years after the country left out changes that would have led to equal marriage.

“Absolutely equal rights and obligations”

As reported by the Associated Press, the new draft says marriage should be between “two people ... with absolutely equal rights and obligations,” rather than between a man and a woman.

Cuba’s Justice Minister Óscar Silveira Martínez says: “We consider this version to be consistent with the constitutional text and develop and update the various legal-family institutions in correspondence with the humanistic nature of our social process.”

In a surprise to no one evangelical groups are objecting to the changes and will vote against them. Before it can be made official, the draft needs to be approved by Cuba’s parliament and a referendum. AP says it’s likely to go to the former in December, before going to the public next year.

Yamila González Ferrer, the vice president of the National Union of Jurists of Cuba, says the proposed code goes further than just same-sex marriage, including 480 articles in the draft.

“It protects all expressions of family diversity and the right of each person to establish a family in coherence with the constitutional principles of plurality, inclusion, and human dignity," she explained. 

However, history is known for repeating itself and Cuba also found itself in a similar position three years ago before the march towards equal marriage faltered.

In 2018, a similar change was proposed, suggesting marriage be “a consensual union between two people”, but it was dropped by Cuba’s National Assembly after some groups said they were against same-sex marriage.

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