Cuba’s Catholic Church has urged the country’s citizens to reject the legalizing same-sex marriage.
The church said the notion of same-sex marriage in Cuba was due to ‘ideological colonialism’ being imposed by richer countries.
Santiago de Cuba archbishop Dionisio Garcia called on Cubans not to ‘ignore what nature has given us’ for fear of ‘regrettable consequences,’ AFP reports.
The church’s message is addressing Cuba’s upcoming referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
In July, the country’s National Assembly paved the way for a number of changes to be made to the constitution, including allowing marriage equality.
The current definition of marriage in Cuba is the ‘voluntary union between a man and woman;’ the proposed changes would make this ‘the consensual union of two people, regardless of gender.’
In response, the Episcopal Conference posted an online statement calling on Cubans to find ‘other legal ways’ to protect same-sex unions.
‘That should not be taken as an argument to change the definition of an institution of the natural order, such as marriage,’ the statement said.
Five churches and evangelical denominations in Cuba also released a statement claiming that ‘marriage is exclusively the union between a man and a woman.’
Archbishop Garcia has said that support for same-sex marriage was due to globalization and the ‘cultural imperialism’ of larger, richer nations using their power to ‘influence less developed countries in need of economic aid.’
The church aims to have the provision recognizing same-sex marriage removed from the new constitution before the issue goes to the vote in early 2019.
Replacing 1976 constitution
The push to change the constitution for marriage equality was spearheaded by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban president Raul Castro.
In the past, the country had been hostile to the LGBTI community.
Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, then-president Fidel Castro sent 25,000 gay men deemed unfit for military service to labor camps. However, in 2010 Castro admitted responsibility for injustices which had been perpetrated against the LGBTI community.
Cuba’s parliament approved a new constitution to replace the 1976 version, and it has now been summited for public debate.
The referendum on marriage equality is currently slated for February 24 next year.