Cubans are called on Sunday to validate or veto a new Family Code in a referendum that includes the legalization of same-sex marriage and surrogacy, in an unusual exercise that represents a test of legitimacy for the government.
More than eight million Cubans over the age of 16 will be able to cast their voluntary and secret vote to validate a law in a referendum for the first time.
With this vote, a long process would conclude, after the attempt to introduce same-sex marriage in the Constitution approved in 2019.
The new regulation, which will replace the one in force since 1975, was approved in July by the National Assembly of People’s Power (Parliament, unicameral) and changes the definition that provides for the union between a man and a woman for the concept of marriage between “two people”.
This code also protects vulnerable sectors of society such as the disabled; defines family sexual and gender violence, and introduces the possibility that minors are under the responsibility of several parents or grandparents and close relatives.
– “Exclusion and silence” –
The Family Code “is the hope of thousands of people marked by painful histories of exclusion and silence. Human beings who have suffered and are suffering from the gaps in our laws,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel said on Wednesday in his Twitter account. Twitter.
However, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba criticized this month the so-called “gender ideology”, which supports many precepts contained in the new legislation, such as gay marriage, assisted pregnancy and the possibility that minors can initiate a process clinical for sex change.
“Every child is a gift and an end in itself; it is a child’s right to have a father and a mother. It is unethical for the so-called ‘solidarity gestation’ to be recognized as adequate, in which a woman carrying in her womb for nine months a child must hand over to other people immediately after birth,” he said in a statement.
The journalist and LGBT opposition activist, Maykel González Vivero, accused the Catholic Church of taking rights away from this community.
“Catholics want to leave us without rights, which is to erase us and on top of that they ask for respect for their exclusionary discourse, in the name of freedom of expression,” González said on his Twitter account.
For Cuban academic Arturo López-Levy, from the University of Holy Names, California, the new code “connects with the best of the international progressive vision,” but “implies a confrontation between visions of that institution” familiar in Cuba.
– Pass the account to the government –
The Díaz-Canel government has carried out an intense campaign in favor of Yes in official media and on social networks, while an opposition, disjointed and without legal channels on the island, has expressed itself for No.
In the midst of the difficult economic and migratory situation facing the island, López-Levy warns about the possibility of abstentionism and rejection “to pass the account of the crisis to the government.”
It is “a dramatic opportunity to approve or disapprove his management,” says the academic.
The vote comes fourteen months after the historic demonstrations of July 11, 2021, when thousands of people took to the streets.
Skeptical, the veteran opponent Martha Beatriz Roque thinks that the figures of the final result “are already made” in favor and without “respect for the rights of the people.”
The Constitution, submitted to a referendum in 2019, was supported by 78.3% of the electoral roll, the lowest electoral result since the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959.
With three previous referendums to ratify constitutional texts, the Family Code is the first law to undergo this process.
The triumph of the No seems “very unlikely”, although he does not rule out that the rejection could reach up to 30%, says López-Levy.
Between February and April, the Family Code was submitted to a wide consultation in 79,000 meetings of neighbors neighborhood by neighborhood.
The participants could take the floor to propose a modification, a deletion, an addition or express doubts.
If it wins acceptance with more than 50% of the votes, this law will enter into force the day after the results are known, otherwise the current one will remain in force.
The Latin American countries that have legalized gay marriage are Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Chile, as well as 27 of the 31 states of Mexico.