July 24, 2018 at 10:59 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Cuban lawmakers approve new constitution with marriage equality

Cuba could become the first country in the Caribbean in which same-sex couples can legally marry after members of the National Assembly on July 22, 2018, unanimously approved a new constitution that contains marriage equality. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Cuban lawmakers on Sunday unanimously approved a new constitution that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The vote took place after Mariela Castro — the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who directs the country’s National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) — and other members of the Cuban National Assembly spoke in favor of a proposed amendment that would define marriage as a “voluntary union into which two people who are legally eligible can enter.”

Activists who work independently of CENESEX in recent years launched campaigns in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples on the Communist island. Five Evangelical church groups last month publicly expressed their opposition to nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Cuba would become the first Caribbean country to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples if the new constitution is approved in a referendum that is expected to take place later this year.

Sunday’s vote took place nearly six decades after gay men were among those who were sent to labor camps, known by the Spanish acronym UMAP, following the 1959 revolution that brought Mariela Castro’s uncle, Fidel Castro, to power.

The Cuban government until 1993 forcibly quarantined people with HIV/AIDS in state-run sanitaria. Fidel Castro in 2010 apologized for the work camps during an interview with a Mexican newspaper.

Cuba since 2008 has offered free sex-reassignment surgeries through its national health care system, although only a few dozen people have been able to receive them. Mariela Castro, who is a member of the National Assembly, and CENESEX since that year have organized a series of events across the country each year that commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

A three-judge panel in Havana last October granted Violeta Cardoso custody of her late daughter’s three young children who she is raising with her partner of 32 years, Isabel Pacheco. The ruling is believed to be the first time the Cuban government has legally recognized a same-sex couple.

Independent LGBTI activists with whom the Washington Blade regularly speak say they continue to face discrimination and even arrest if they publicly criticize the Cuban government.

Legisladores cubanos aprueban nueva constitución con matrimonio igualitario

Miembros de la Asamblea Nacional de Cuba el domingo aprobaron por unanimidad una nueva constitución que extendería los derechos matrimoniales a parejas del mismo sexo.

Se realizó el voto después de Mariela Castro — la hija del expresidente cubano Raúl Castro que es directora del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX) — y otros parlamentarios hablaron en favor de una enmienda propuesta que definiría el matrimonio como una “unión voluntaria concertada entre dos personas con aptitud legal para ello.”

Activistas que trabajan independientemente del CENESEX durante los recientes años lanzaron campañas en favor de los derechos matrimoniales para parejas del mismo sexo en la isla comunista. Cinco iglesias evangélicos el pasado mes expresaron públicamente su oposición al tema.

Cuba se convertiría en el primer país caribeño de extender los derechos matrimoniales a parejas del mismo sexo si la nueva constitución sea aprobada en un referéndum que se espera que se realizará más adelante este año.

El voto del domingo se realizó casi seis décadas después de los hombres gay estaban entre ellos que fueron enviados a campos de trabajo, conocidos como UMAP, después de la revolución de 1959 que trajo al tío de Mariela Castro, Fidel Castro, al poder.

El gobierno cubano hasta 1993 puso en cuarentena a personas con VIH/SIDA en sanitarias estatales. Fidel Castro en 2010 se disculpó por las UMAP durante una entrevista con un periódico mexicano.

Cuba desde 2008 ha ofrecido por gratis cirugías de reasignación de sexo, aunque solamente unas docenas de personas han podido recibirlos. Mariela Castro y el CENESEX desde este año han organizado una serie of eventos por todo el país que conmemoran el Día Internacional contra la Homofobia, la Transfobia y la Bifobia.

Un tribunal en La Habana el pasado octubre dio a Violeta Cardoso custodia de los tres hijos jóvenes de su hija fallecida que está criando con su pareja de 32 años, Isabel Pacheco. El fallo se cree que es la primera vez el gobierno cubano haya reconocido legalmente una pareja del mismo sexo.

Activistas LGBTI independientes con que hablan regularmente al Washington Blade dicen que siguen enfrentando discriminación e incluso el riesgo de detención si critican públicamente al gobierno cubano.

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

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