Cuba’s electoral oversight board on Monday confirmed that a new family code, which introduces same-sex marriage in the country, was massively approved in a popular referendum held on Sunday. Almost 67 percent of voters (3.9 million people) supported the code.
The new code reforms the family law, in force since 1975, and embraces several civil rights advances for LGBTQ groups. It also bans child marriage and enacts new policies against gender violence.
Sunday’s process is also the first in which citizens were directly consulted on a specific law since Cuba’s socialist revolution triumphed in 1959.
“Starting today, we will be a better nation,” said President Miguel Díaz-Canel. Backing the new legal modifications, the president said the new code reflects “diversity.”
He also mentioned that the approval of the family code “pays off a debt with several generations,” a reference to a shady past — during the 1960s and 1970s, LGBTQ groups were persecuted on the island and even accused of being “counterrevolutionary.”
In 2010, former leader Fidel Castro took the blame himself for the persecutions, calling them “moments of great injustice.” Nowadays, Mr. Castro’s niece Mariela Castro, president of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (Cenex), has become one of the country’s strongest voices in favor of progressive civil rights advances.
The approval of the new code, however, faces widespread resistance among conservative groups, especially in Cuban evangelical movements. The Cuban government is also accused of committing human rights violations when it comes to political issues, reports by Human Rights Watch show.