About two-thirds of the people who voted agreed with the changes to the Family Code. These changes include making surrogate pregnancies legal and giving gay couples who choose to adopt parental rights.
This is a historic occasion for Cuba, where the gay community was once criminalized and forced into labor camps during the 1960s and 1970s.
However, religious organizations and conservatives fought back against the changes in large numbers.
A new Family Code, totaling one hundred pages and the product of countless community discussions and countless revisions, was put to a vote on Sunday.
The government of Cuba supported the proposed legislation change and organized a statewide campaign to win popular support for it.
On Sunday, when he voted, President Miguel Dzáz-Canel addressed the nation and said he was confident that the majority of the population would approve the new code since it reflected the diversity of individuals, families, and religions.
According to AFP, the president of the electoral board, Alina Balseiro, stated on state television on Monday that early results showed an “irreversible trend,” with 66% of votes counted thus far in favor of the reform. The adoption of the bill needs the support of the majority of voters.
Finally, gay rights campaigners in Cuba have finally succeeded in getting their reforms passed.
The Communist-run island’s official stance on homosexuality has evolved over the past few decades, in no small part due to the advocacy of former leader Ral Castro’s daughter Mariela.
After the 1959 revolution, the first few years that Fidel Castro was in charge, both men and women who were gay were locked up.
Nevertheless, many Cubans, especially evangelical churches and other conservatives, continue to resist the move.
Several dissident groups pushed hard for a “no” vote, saying Cubans should grab this once-in-a-lifetime chance to destroy the communist government.
Anti-government activists may view the referendum as an attempt by the state to enhance its human rights image after years of harsh repression of all types of dissent.
Millions of people on the island have been without power because of a serious energy crisis, and the referendum is happening at the same time.
Alberto R. Coll, a law professor at DePaul University and an expert on U.S. relations with Cuba, says that this hostility comes from a growing evangelical movement in Cuba and a strong machismo tradition.
Professor Coll said that the law shouldn’t have been so strict about the policy, but that it had been needed for a long time and was passed because of public support.
Surrogate pregnancies are legal, and the law protects women from violence and requires that couples divide up household chores fairly.
Other equally progressive measures have been enacted in recent years by other Latin American countries to protect homosexual citizens’ rights. Following a similar ruling by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court in 2019, Costa Rica will become the latest country to legalize marriage between people of the same sex in 2020.
Mr. Daz-Canel and his administration had publicly advocated for the referendum’s success. But people who don’t like him say that his vote was just a way to look moderate as political and economic problems on the island got worse.
The biggest financial crisis since the 1990s and calls for political and social transformation have overwhelmed government officials. All of these things combined to spark the island’s greatest protests in decades last year.