Gay marriage, surrogacy and child marriage ban: what will be in the Cuban referendum

Cubans will go to the polls on Sunday (25) for a referendum on the so-called Family Code which, in addition to the behavioral guidelines that will be voted on, may also reflect the level of support for the country’s leaders in the midst of a serious economic crisis.

Voters must decide between “yes” or “no” to many issues such as same-sex marriage and surrogacy. The adoption by homosexual couples, the protection of minors and the elderly and the prohibition of child marriage will also be up for a vote.

The range of positions ranges from those who defend the “yes” because they agree with the proposal and support the government even those who will vote “no” or abstain because they are against the code, the political system, or both.

There are intermediate options, such as LGBTIQ+ activists critical of the ruling party who will vote in favor and that of critics of this group who will vote “no” or will abstain because they believe that a “yes” would legitimize the government.

Some will vote in favor in support of the leaders, although they do not agree with all the points of the renewal of the Code, and others will vote “no” because they are tired of the serious economic crisis, as the Efe Agency was able to identify after several interviews and despite the absence of public research on the subject.

Those who vote “yes”

The director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), Mariela Ca stro, for example, defends the “yes” because the new Code is an “expansion of rights” and a contribution to “further democratize relationships”.

She also recognizes that “there are also people who vote yes in favor of the Revolution (Cuban leaders)”, although they do not fully agree with the text.

The independent Cuban journalist Maykel González Vivero told EFE that he will vote in favor, despite having “many criticisms to make of the government, many objections to the process” of drafting the Family Code.

Those who vote “no” or choose to abstain

Independent journalist María Matienzo considers that the best option is to abstain, despite belonging to the LGBTIQ+ group. “Civil rights are not more important than others,” she told Efe.

Matienzo thinks the government cannot turn the page on this Code without offering a “public apology” for the homophobic past of the Revolution, which “arrested and persecuted people from the LGBTIQ+ community”.

In the same vein, opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa told EFE that he is “in favor of some late additions to the Cuban legal system who recognize rights for the LGBTIQ+ community”, but who will abstain.

“I would not vote ‘yes’ to a totalitarian root code that defines the family from an ideological state” and that “attempts to recognize identity rights while denying the rights of citizens”.

In turn, the political opponent and dissident Marta Beatriz Roque said that her option is “not to vote”, although she cannot exercise her political rights as part of his last sentence.

“For me it’s simply more of the same, to vote or not to vote. I’m not in favor of yes or no, or anything, because I know the dictatorship, I know how it works”, he explained.

The president of the Cuban Episcopal Conference, Emilio Aranguren, recently signed a statement with the rest of the Catholic hierarchy on the island in which he reiterated his rejection of homosexuals being able to marry and adopt, and asked for votes “in conscience”.

The text highlights his “disappointment” because, despite the doubts of “part of society”, issues with which they do not agree, remained “intact” in the Family Code.

He highlighted that “marriage between a man and a woman, which is the natural basis of the family , cannot be displaced or deformed” and that adoption is giving the child “what by nature corresponds to him and he needs: a father and a mother”.

Aranguren also pointed out that the so-called ” solidarity pregnancy” or “surrogacy” “is neither ethical” nor “adequate”.

He and the other signatory Catholic bishops also denounced the lack of plural information in the campaign ha and the conditioning of the vote by the government.

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