Cubans to resolve on same-sex marriage in nationwide referendum | CNN


2022-09-25 10:02:48

Matanzas, Cuba

The cake with collectible figurines of two brides on high melted within the Caribbean warmth and the marriage friends fretted aloud that one among Cuba’s frequent blackouts might strike at any second however for Annery Rivera Velasco and Yennys Hernandez Molina, the day was one of many happiest of their lives.

The 2 girls married in September, surrounded by a small group of fellow LGBTQ activists within the sea-side metropolis of Matanzas. However their union just isn’t acknowledged by the Cuban authorities, no less than not but.

That might change as early as Sunday, when hundreds of thousands of Cubans are anticipated to end up to vote for or towards a significant overhaul of the communist-run island’s greater than four-decade-old household code, which would come with the historic step of legalizing similar intercourse marriage.

“It’s a authorized proper and we must always all be the identical earlier than the regulation. It’s a query of a human proper,” Yennys Hernandez instructed CNN moments after her marriage ceremony on the Metropolitan Group Church, a LGBTQ-friendly church that is without doubt one of the few on the island to hold out same-sex marriages.

Following the church service, the couple reminded assembled family and friends members to vote for the brand new household code.

“I consider we’re all equal by way of rights, choices, prospects and by way of being a citizen and expressing that citizenship. I don’t suppose we’re lower than the remainder of society,” stated Annery Rivera, who stated that if the brand new household code passes, she and Hernandez would maintain a civil marriage ceremony that might imply within the eyes of the Cuban state they’re legally married.

Annery Rivera Velasco and Yennys Hernandez Molina, who married in September.

In line with the Cuban authorities, the 100-page household code offers larger protections to girls, youngsters and the aged in addition to permitting LGBTQ {couples} to marry and undertake youngsters.

Members within the LGBTQ neighborhood in Cuba have waited many years for this second.

However some additionally concern a backlash if the code passes.

Following the 1959 revolution, homosexual folks have been amongst these despatched to work camps generally known as Navy Items to Assist Manufacturing together with political dissidents, monks and others thought of undesirables by Fidel Castro’s new authorities. Some homosexual males and lesbians even stated they carried out sham marriages to keep away from falling beneath suspicion.

Castro later apologized for the best way homosexuals have been handled however a full accounting of how many individuals have been despatched to the pressured labor camps and who ordered their creation has by no means been revealed by the federal government.

In 1979, homosexuality was legalized in Cuba though many homosexual women and men stated they nonetheless confronted open discrimination.

In 1993, the Cuban movie “Strawberry and Chocolate” in regards to the unlikely friendship between a younger supporter of the revolution and an older homosexual man was launched and sparked a nationwide debate in regards to the remedy of LGBTQ folks on the island.

For greater than a decade, Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban president Raul Castro, has brazenly advocated by means of a government-funded heart for improved rights for gays, lesbians and transgender folks.

However the push for larger equality has confronted stiff opposition from each outdoors and from inside the Cuban authorities.

In 2018, Cuban legislators deserted provisions that might have legalized similar intercourse marriage amid fears {that a} homophobic backlash would have lowered turnout for a referendum to approve a brand new structure.

The next 12 months, Cuban police broke up a peaceable LGBTQ rights parade saying the marchers didn’t have permission to carry the rally.

Cuba’s rising evangelical neighborhood specifically has brazenly advocated towards approving the household code.

Evangelical pastor Yoel Serrano instructed CNN that whereas evangelicals have been extra outspoken about their opposition to same-sex marriage, many teams throughout Cuban society have their reservations.

“I take into consideration 95% of Christians disapprove however it’s not simply Christians,” Serrano stated. “There are communists who aren’t in settlement, materialistic folks not in settlement. Lots of people who consider in several issues that don’t agree with the modifications they wish to make with the brand new household code.”

Even at neighborhood “consultations” organized by the federal government throughout the island, some individuals who recognized themselves as loyal revolutionaries stated they have been uncertain how they’d vote.

“It might be unlucky if the code wasn’t accepted massively due to one article,” a girl named Melba stated – referring to the same-sex provision – at a neighborhood assembly in 2021 that CNN was permitted to cowl.

Within the weeks earlier than the referendum, the Cuban authorities has made a full courtroom press in favor of the brand new household code throughout state-run media, arguing the brand new code is proof the island’s now greater than six-decades-old-revolution is able to adapting to the instances.

It stays to be seen if Cubans will vote overwhelmingly to permit same-sex marriage or if they may use the referendum as a uncommon alternative to specific their anger on the authorities over wide-spread energy cuts, runaway inflation and more and more naked grocery store cabinets.

On the church in Matanzas, Rev. Elaine Saralegui Caraballo, the pastor who married Yennys and Annery, stated that if the referendum passes or is rejected, the wrestle for full equality nonetheless must proceed.

“I’ve religion that love will win,” she stated. “If it’s a “Sure” or “No” it’s the identical. We inform our neighborhood nobody can take away your worth, who you might be.”

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