January 25, 2018 at 1:15 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Cuban woman with same-sex partner granted custody of daughter’s children

A rainbow flag hangs from the window of an apartment building on Havana’s oceanfront on May 12, 2017. A woman has been granted custody of her late daughter’s three children who she is raising with her same-sex partner. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A woman in Cuba has been granted custody of her late daughter’s three children who she is raising with her same-sex partner.

A three-judge panel in Havana ruled in favor of Eumnice Violeta Cardoso Pérez on Oct. 19.

Cardoso’s daughter, Vioem Karen Díaz Cardoso, gave birth to two girls and a boy when she was married to Guillermo Gómez Vera.

A copy of the judges’ ruling the Washington Blade obtained on Wednesday indicates the couple’s daughters are 8- and 7-years-old and their son is 5-years-old. It also notes Cardoso’s partner is the children’s godmother.

Gómez and Díaz divorced after their son was born.

Díaz died from lymphatic cancer on March 21, 2016. The ruling notes Cardoso and her partner helped Díaz take care of her children before she passed away.

Cardoso received “temporary guardianship” of the children after her daughter’s death. The states Gómez “neglected” them.

“The children’s maternal grandmother together with their godmother have cared for and provide for the children with care, dedication and love,” reads the ruling. “[They] have such a bond with them that they view them as if they were their children.”

The ruling states Gómez later started a “new family” with another woman. It also notes he asked whether his father, who lives in Ecuador and spends roughly two weeks in Cuba each year, could have permanent custody of the children.

“The defendant since the children’s mother’s death has not been in charge of creating conditions to take care of their children, has not fostered a climate of acceptance of his children in his new family,” reads the ruling.

The ruling also states Díaz on her deathbed said her mother should have custody of her children.

“It is in their best interests that their maternal grandmother should receive guardianship and custody of them,” it says.

The ruling also states the children should have “regular communication” with their father.

The Cuban constitution currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Acepto, a group that advocates for marriage rights for same-sex couples in Cuba, on Jan. 20 wrote on its Facebook page that the ruling is “possibly” the first time the “legitimacy of a non-heteronormative family” has been legally recognized on the Communist island.

The ruling refers to the Cuba’s Family Code that states the need to ensure “children’s well-being and optimal development, while also providing the family with all necessary protection as the fundamental unit of society.” Acepto on Monday applauded the judges who ruled in favor of Cardoso and the psychologist who worked on her case.

“They understand a family is not only formed by parents and their children, but also by an extended family, recognizing the importance of grandparents and aunts and uncles as members of the fundamental unit of society, the family,” wrote Acepto on its Facebook page.

Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBT-specific issues as director of the country’s National Center for Sexual Education, has publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples. LGBT activists who work independently of Mariela Castro and her organization continue to urge Cuban lawmakers to debate the issue.

Mariela Castro, who is a member of the Cuban National Assembly, has not publicly acknowledged these efforts. Mariela Castro on Wednesday acknowledged on her Twitter page that she “has had the honor and the responsibility of being nominated” as a candidate for the National Assembly for the second time.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Jan. 9 issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights. The decision is not legally binding in Cuba because it is not party to the American Convention on Human Rights.

Cuba provides free sex-reassignment surgeries through its national health care system. Mariela Castro last May acknowledged during a Havana press conference that only 35 people have undergone the procedure in the country since 2008.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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