Cuba assembly opens door to gay marriage, other family rights |  LGBTQ News

Cuba assembly opens door to gay marriage, other family rights | LGBTQ News

The new family code to be voted on in September will legalize same-sex marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Cuba’s National Assembly on Friday approved a sweeping update to its family law that opens the door to allowing same-sex marriage, greater rights for women and increased protections for children, the elderly and other family members.

The new family code will be put to a referendum on September 25 after being discussed in community meetings earlier this year, where organizers said 62 percent of attendees expressed their support.

That is relatively low by Cuban standards, where the recently adopted new constitution was approved with 86 percent of the vote. Political proposals in previous referenda have had support of around 95 per cent.

The code promoted “love, devotion, care, sensitivity, respect for others and the harmony of our families,” said Justice Minister Oscar Manuel Silvera, when he presented the code for the vote in the National Assembly.

Opponents of the rule change include many churches.

“What has happened is sad because it is going to bring confrontation,” said Methodist pastor Henry Nurse.

“It goes against what has been taught for many generations of years all over the world about the true traditional marriage which is between a man and a woman,” he said.

The new code will legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, allow same-sex couples to adopt children and promote equal sharing of responsibilities in the home. It will also allow marriage contracts and surrogate pregnancies, but not for profit.

Parents will have “responsibility” rather than “custody” of children, and be required to have “respect for the dignity and physical and mental integrity of children and young people”.

Cuba is already a regional leader in women’s rights. Women head almost 50 per cent of households and make up 60 per cent of professionals, have free access to abortion and can claim up to two years’ maternity leave.

A couple in Havana who have lived together for many years but have never been able to have children, Rita Acosta Cruz and Gabriela Alfonso, said it was their human right to marry and adopt children.

“The opportunity it gives us is marriage. The fact of being able to choose together for certain things and certain legal procedures that we need as a couple and not as independent people,” said Alfonso.

Acosta said it met their expectations as a family.

“We are a marriage. We have the plans together, the finances together. It is not fair that this opportunity does not exist, she said.

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