The commission in charge of writing Cuba’s new constitution has dropped planned references to marriage equality after protests, it has emerged.
A new draft of the constitution drops the statement in Article 68 that marriage is a union of ‘two people… with absolutely equal rights and obligations.’
The wording had been proposed by LGBTI rights activists in the Caribbean island country.
The first draft of the new constitution was unveiled in July, and prompted criticism from evangelical churches and members of the public.
The final version of the constitution will be put to a National Assembly vote later this week before heading to a popular referendum on 24 February.
‘Matrimony is a social and legal institution’
The National Assembly tweeted that the commission proposed ‘removing the concept of matrimony from the project of the constitution as a way to respect all opinions. Matrimony is a social and legal institution.’
They furthermore tweeted that ‘Article 68 was the one most discussed by the people in the popular consultation, in 66 percent of the meetings (of citizen debate).’
‘Of the 192,408 opinions, 158,376 propose replacing the measure now in force with the one proposed,’ they furthermore continued, as reported by local state-owned media.
The commission also told the Assembly that matrimony should be addressed in the family code, set to be updated shortly after the new constitution has been approved.
Cuba has a one-party socialist system, among the last in the world.
‘There is no setback’
Former President Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro Espin, has spearheaded the push to legalize marriage equality.
She said in a statement posted to Facebook: ‘Activists and friends !!! [sic] In the last few minutes, information has been circulated about the new formulation on marriage contained in the draft Constitution that has just been presented at the National Assembly of People’s Power.
‘Unfortunately the message tweeted by our legislative body mutilated the new proposal and with an inappropriate approach launched into the arena what many people are interpreting as a setback. With all the responsibility I must clarify it : the new formula sustains the essence of the previously proposed article (68), since it erases the binarism of gender and heteronormativity with which marriage was defined in the 1976 Constitution.
‘The variation in the new proposal lies in the substitution of “persons” by “spouses”, an issue that maintains the possibility that all people can access the marriage institution. In addition it places as a novel element the unions of fact, without tying them to any genre; This figure, in the long run and according to statistics, is the most used in our society.
‘There is no setback, the essence of Article 68 is maintained, the struggle continues, now let’s give the YES to the Constitution and then close ranks to achieve a Family Code as advanced as the new constitutional text. Cuba is ours, Cuba belongs to everyone.’