About 61% of Cubans who made submissions on the country’s draft new family code are in favour of same-sex marriage and other proposed changes.
Cuba's existing family code defines marriage as “the voluntarily established union between a man and a woman” and makes no provision for same-sex marriage.
The proposed code is the result of much consensus-building, research and meticulous study. It includes a gender-neutral definition of marriage, thereby opening the door to marriage between same-sex couples, and strengthens women’s rights under domestic law by reinforcing their sexual and reproductive rights and upholding the equitable distribution of domestic and care work.
Article 61 of the new draft code defines marriage as a “union of two people with legal aptitude who voluntarily agree to enter into it in order to build a life together based on affection and love".
Results from the popular consultation over the draft were delivered to Cuba’s National Assembly of People's Power on May 14 by the National Electoral Council (CEN).
The drafting committee will present an updated version of the new code to elected deputies by the end of June. It will be put to a referendum later this year.
The draft code also gives children greater participation in decisions that affect them, expands grandparents’ rights, permits financial agreements before marriage, and provides for punishments for violence within marriage.
In addition, it would enable parents to decide whether a child takes the family name of their mother or father and would remedy the unequal marriage age for men and women (now 14 years of age for women and 16 for men).
Between February and April, more than 150,000 submissions were made on the code, by electoral authorities, jurists, experts, students, professionals and many ordinary Cubans.
The public consultation process involved the participation of more than 6,480,000 Cubans in 79,000 meetings.
CEN President Alina Balseiro Gutiérrez told Granma the issues that generated the greatest number of responses included the proposed changes to marriage, parental responsibility, assisted reproduction, adoption and surrogacy, as well as laws on discrimination and violence within the family.
The Cuban Communist Party’s Secretary of Organisation Roberto Morales Ojeda said that while the popular consultation process concluded favourably, much work remains in creating a code that is “modern and inclusive, one which eliminates inequalities”.
University of Havana professor Dr Yuri Pérez Martínez emphasised the legitimacy of the popular consultation as a democratic exercise, saying: “This draft Families Code is an expression of our defence of human rights.”