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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 21, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 51
Cuba eliminates same-sex marriage article from new constitution
Section One
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Cuba eliminates same-sex marriage article from new constitution

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Cuban government announced on December 18 that it would drop language from the country's new constitution that would have authorized same-sex marriage.

Article 68 of the draft constitution defined marriage as 'the consensual union of two people, regardless of gender, with absolutely equal rights and obligations.' The language, replacing an old provision defining marriage as a union of man and woman, was proposed in July 2018.

The language authorizing same-sex marriage ran into vocal opposition from conservative elements in Cuban society, including the Catholic Church and evangelical Christian groups.

Cuba's National Assembly announced on Twitter that the commission responsible for revising the constitution has proposed eliminating the language from the new charter 'as a way of respecting all opinions.'

The constitutional commission is headed by Communist Party head and retired president Raúl Castro.

His daughter, Mariela Castro, is a lawmaker known as Cuba's highest-profile advocate for LGBT rights. Her advocacy has helped rehabilitate Cuba's international image on LGBTQ rights after the Castro-led communist government sent Gay men to 're-education' camps in the 1960s.

The late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Raúl's older brother and Mariela's uncle, apologized for the repression of LGBT rights in a 2010 newspaper interview.

The new plan is to drop Article 68 altogether and have the Cuban constitution simply remain silent on the issue of who may marry, thus leaving open the possibility of a future legalization of same-sex marriage without specifically guaranteeing a right to it.

Francisco Rodríguez, an out Gay Communist Party member and blogger known as 'Paquito de Cuba,' said eliminating any reference to who may marry was an acceptable compromise that will allow activists to campaign for laws that would allow same-sex marriage.

'This was a side step,' he said. 'It's a solution. Not 'between a man and a woman' or 'between two people.' Now is when it all begins.'

Havana and other large Cuban cities have flourishing LGBT communities, but anti-LGBT attitudes remain deeply rooted among much of the population.

The Cuban government said that many citizens spoke out against the proposed Article 68 during public consultations on the draft constitution throughout the year. According to state-owned media, Cubans made 192,408 comments on Article 68, with the majority asking to eliminate it.

The new constitution is expected to be voted on in a public referendum in early 2019.

Dropping Article 68 is the third dramatic reversal announced by the Cuban government in December.

The government also eliminated some of the most disliked new restrictions on private entrepreneurs, and tough new limits on artistic expression were delayed after protests and complaints from Cuban artists.

The new laws were announced in July, three months after Raúl Castro retired and current president Miguel Díaz-Canel took office. Díaz-Canel was born in 1960, the year after the Castro brothers led a successful revolution to power in Cuba.

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