Editor’s note: Tremenda Nota is the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba. The Blade published the original version of this article on its website on Dec. 20.
HAVANA — Justice Minister Oscar Silvera Martínez on Dec. 18 announced the Family Code, the law that could establish marriage equality in Cuba, will not be introduced in the National Assembly until December 2021 when one of the parliamentary commissions will be in session.
Silvera Martínez presented an expected work agenda for the coming years, including two special sessions in addition to those that are normally scheduled, to approve the roughly 40 laws currently before the current legislature.
According to the Trabajadores newspaper, the minister said the process will be difficult, “not only because of the number of rules that must be approved now and in the coming years, but because of our people’s expectations.”
The marriage provision was the most debated part of the constitution the National Assembly approved a year ago and put to a referendum in February. Lawmakers decided to postpone the debate (on marriage equality) for two years.
“The commission proposes to defer the concept of marriage, that is, to leave the proposed constitution, as a way of respecting all opinions,” said a tweet published on the National Assembly’s official Twitter account.
Article 68, which defined marriage as “the union between two people,” was substituted by the technical notion of marriage. One of the new constitution’s transitional provisions finally set a two-year deadline and another referendum on the Family Code, the law that will establish if LGBTI+ couples can join under Cuban law.
Mariela Castro during an interview with a Basque newspaper revealed the government felt pressured by the propaganda of various evangelical churches who oppose marriage equality.
“Groups of religious fundamentalists are trying to blackmail the Cuban government with they are not going to vote in favor of the constitution if Article 68 related to marriage between two people remains part of it,” declared the assemblywoman and director of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX).
A few days after the referendum and in contradiction to the National Assembly’s position there was no public consensus around same-gender unions, a report on an official survey with favorable results on the LGBTI+ community’s aspirations was published.
The investigation, done in 2016, found 77 percent of Cuba’s adult population considers people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should have the same rights.
Mariela Castro at the time told Tremenda Nota there was no explanation as to why the National Assembly did not use these statistics as an argument to keep Article 68.
Luis Ángel Adán Roble, the only openly gay Cuban assemblyman, told Tremenda Nota the survey “was a wasted tool.” He also criticized the methodology lawmakers used to reject Article 68.
Adán Roble last November resigned from the National Assembly after he publicly challenged CENESEX Deputy Director Manuel Vázquez Seijido on social media. LGBTI+ unions could be legalized in 2022 if the Family Code has an inclusive marriage proposal and if the National Assembly finally approves it in December 2021.