Monday 23 September 2019

Cuba scraps path to gay marriage in new laws

Miguel Díaz-Canel: Cuba's first post-Castro president. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer
Miguel Díaz-Canel: Cuba's first post-Castro president. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

Rachael Alexander

Cuba will leave out of its new constitution changes that would have paved the way for legal same-sex marriage, despite majority support in local assemblies, a government official said.

It was a surprising twist, given public support for the reform and earlier remarks from politicians.

The measure would have changed the definition of parties in a marriage from man and wife to "between two people".

However, "the draft constitution will not define which parties enter into a marriage... So that is now out of constitutional reform discussions overall," Council of State secretary and drafting co-ordinator Homero Acosta was quoted as saying.

The full draft constitution was put before neighbourhood and workplace assemblies for debate earlier this year. The marriage issue drew the greatest attention.

"The committee proposes deferring the definition of marriage to the draft constitution, as a way to respect all opinions," Cuba's National Assembly said on Twitter.

The new draft, with the changes made, will be taken up tomorrow by the National Assembly and then submitted to a popular referendum on February 24 next year.

One of the main defenders of the LGBT community in Cuba is Mariela Castro, a daughter of Raúl Castro and niece of Fidel. She said the fight to defend them would go on, despite the scrapping of the proposed change.

"We have not yielded, nor will we yield to conservative and backward blackmail that is politically opposed to the emancipating project that is the Cuban revolution," she wrote.

Ahead of its annual session, Mr Acosta told the National Assembly that 60pc of the text's articles had undergone some type of change.

The commission drafting the constitution proposed an article which defines marriage "as a social and legal institution".

The committee also deemed marriage "one of the forms of family organisation", which "is based on free consent and equality of rights, obligations and legal capacity of the spouses".

Separately, the definition of marriage will be left to the Family Code, which will spell out who can be in a marriage.

Those details will be put to a referendum vote within two years of the draft transitional provision, the National Assembly said. The definition will acknowledge that a shared life and shared family are part of a special legal construct.

The failure to launch of the reform as expected comes during the term of the first post-Castro president, elected in April, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

It would have marked a sea-change on the island where sexual minorities were stigmatized in the wake of the Castro revolution in 1959.

Irish Independent

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