Cuban President Supports Same-Sex Marriage
President Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba publicly announced his support for same-sex marriage, reflecting upcoming changes to Cuba’s constitution.
President Díaz-Canel stated over an interview with Telesur, “I believe that the focus to recognize marriage between two people, without limitations, responds to a problem of eliminating any type of discrimination in society.”
Currently, the Cuban Constitution describes marriage as the union between “a man and a woman.” The proposed article allowing for same-sex marriage states: “Marriage is the voluntary union between two people of legal aptitude, in order to have a common life.”
In addition to allowing same-sex marriages, potential changes to the Cuban constitution could allow for the prohibition of discrimination against people based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
This respect for LGBT rights is in stark difference of the views on homosexuality of the 1959 Revolution. The mold of the revolutionary man was strictly “atheist, heterosexual, and anti-bourgeoisie.” The homosexual man had no place in the revolution, and gay individuals were even sent to military work camps, alongside Christians and other individuals who were deemed defiant of the revolution, for corrective purposes.
Regarding the overwhelming change in Cuban society, President Díaz-Canel commented, “In these years we have lived through a tremendous evolution of thought, many taboos have been broken, which were previously very established. There is a youth that is pushing very hard.”
One of the main proponents of this aperture to same-sex marriage has been Mariela Castro, Raúl Castro’s daughter. Mariela Castro is a member of the National Assembly and President of Cuba’s National Center of Sexual Education.
However, these changes have not gone without criticism and scrutiny, namely from Cuba’s Catholic Church and religious sector. Dionisio Garcia, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, implored Cubans “not to ignore what nature has given us.” Archbishop Garcia has stated that aperture to same-sex marriage is a form of “ideological colonialism” imposed by rich countries in order “to influence less developed countries in need of economic aid.”
The proposed changes in the Cuban Constitution are not limited to LGBT rights. In addition to the aforementioned amendments, the proposed reform would add eighty-seven articles, amend one hundred thirteen, and discard thirteen. Some modifications to the Constitution could include the introduction of the role of prime minister, the limiting of the presidential term to five years, and more protections of private property.
Debates regarding amendments to the Constitution will continue until Nov. 15, and the final project will be left up to the citizenry through a referendum that will be held on Feb. 24, 2019.
A new constitution for Cuba, alongside the new presidency that has been in place since April of this year, could mark a new era for Cuban politics.