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Draft of Cuba’s new family code opens door for same-sex marriage

A gay Cuban couple kissing
A Cuban couple kiss after receiving a blessing from a Canadian church in Havana.
(Desmond Boylan / Associated Press)

The draft of a new family code for Cuba proposes allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt as well as giving children greater participation in decisions that affect them.

The preliminary draft, released Wednesday, comes almost three years after the island’s communist government backed away from enshrining marriage equality in its new constitution in the face of opposition. A new family code must be approved by Cuba’s parliament and in a national referendum to take effect.

Evangelical groups objected to the constitutional proposal to eliminate the description of marriage as a union of a man and woman and to change it to the union of “two people ... with absolutely equal rights and obligations.”

“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,” Justice Minister Oscar Silvera Martínez said in announcing the draft.

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Evangelical groups, however, are expected to object to the change in the draft code.

Both Martínez and Yamila González Ferrer, vice president of the National Union of Jurists of Cuba, emphasized that the proposed family code is much broader than an authorization of same-sex marriage.

The Cuban government announced Tuesday that it has canceled this year’s edition of a parade widely seen as a sign of progress on gay rights on the island.

“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,” González said.

The draft, which has more than 480 articles, was drawn up by a team of 30 experts and will be posted on the Justice Ministry’s website to collect opinions. It will then go before lawmakers, probably in December, and then to a popular referendum, possibly next year.

Cuba’s current family code dates from 1975 and has been overtaken by new family structures and social changes, legal experts say.


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