Cuba: Same-sex marriage is legal


Serious, upright and dressed in long evening gowns – despite the Cuban midday heat – Lisset and Liusba walked silently up the ten steps of the notary’s office, hands clenched and trembling.

Their two young daughters were a few feet ahead.

Almost an hour later, when they walked out the door, the tension on their faces was replaced with smiles. Since then, they have been each other’s wives.

It became a possibility just three weeks ago on the island when Cuba’s new Family Code – which opens up everything from marriage equality to surrogate mothers – went into effect.

The couple, who have been together for seven years, were among the first to decide to legally marry in Cuba according to the rules.

“It’s a big day,” said Liusba Grajales, an administrator at the central University of Las Villas, just 250 kilometers from the capital. “Love is love, just the way it is. No pressure, no prejudice. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. It’s a mixture of so many strong emotions.”

Just meters away, Lisset Diaz, a 34-year-old dancer, shares the joy. “I feel proud,” she added. “I am surprised.”

The code was adopted after a vigorous campaign by the Cuban government, and the support of the island’s strongest advocate for gay rights, Mariela Castro, daughter of the former president. Raul Castro.

It makes Cuba the ninth country in Latin America – after Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Colombia – to legalize same-sex marriage in recent years.

Elections in Cuba – in which no party other than the Communists are allowed – regularly produce a victory rate of more than 90% – as does the referendum on a major constitutional reform in 2019.

Even so, a third of the country, 33.15%, voted “no”. The text faces a major campaign against it from evangelical groups that deny same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, 66.85% of Cubans who went out, voted “yes”. Nearly 6% left blank or voted.

The code has also been rejected by some anti-government groups, who have called for a “no” vote as a way of rejecting the Cuban government amid growing grievances against the government of Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez .

It was also opposed by some members of the LGBTQ community, who said they abstained from the outset to vote for something they considered human rights.

“Many people in the community were opposed to voting ‘yes’ because they didn’t believe they needed some paper to tell them they had this on paper (to be recognized as a couple). that we need rights, that Liusba said.

Though she said she believes the island is still “a decade away” from becoming a “better and more inclusive” society.

The old Family Code, dating from 1975, provided that marriage was between a man and a woman – not between two people – excluding lifelong partners from inheritances of the other’s property when a person dies.

Together, they live with two daughters, 11-year-old Laura and three-year-old Ainhoa. The latter were born by home insemination because at that time they did not have access to assisted reproductive treatments because they did not have a male partner.

The new law goes beyond marriage equality – something activists tried unsuccessfully to include in the 2019 Constitution – or the ability for same-sex couples to adopt children or use surrogates.

The law for the first time provides for grandparents’ visitation rights over grandchildren and to communicate with stepparents in divorce cases, and even custody of minors later on when necessary for the child’s welfare. young.

It also allows separate property regimes for married couples, allows parents to choose the surname order of their children, extends protection to the disabled and elderly, among others. other rights.

The women see marriage as a way to protect their children if something happens to them.

Ainhoa, also wearing the best dress for the occasion, didn’t quite understand her mother’s marriage ceremony, but walked around introducing Laura. “She’s my sister,” she repeated.

“I’m so excited about how meaningful the wedding was,” Laura told The Associated Press very cautiously, wiping away tears alongside her mothers.

But it came from strong opposition from Protestant churches, who argued that the law was against the “traditional family” established by God, which they said was the union of a man and a woman. female to create. In some rural areas, this code seems to receive less support.

While the country’s capital Havana received 70% of the approval, and Villa Clara – home of Liusba and Lisset – received 66%, in southeastern Holguin received 53%.

Francisco “Paquito” Rodriguez, a blogger and one of Cuba’s first activists for LGBTQ rights, said.

Though he still calls the new cipher a win.

Cuban authorities have not revealed how many same-sex couples have been married in these three weeks, although Rodriguez thinks there could be at least dozens based on information he received from social media.

“In 2007, we celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia for the first time in Cuba. It took 15 years of fighting to make it law,” Rodriguez said. “It may seem like a long time in an individual’s life, but it’s an achievement in the course of our history.”

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