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HAVANA: Cubans will go to polls on Sunday (September 25) on whether to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption, allow surrogate pregnancy and give greater rights to non-biological parents. voted in a landmark referendum.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his wife held an early vote at a polling station in Havana in what they said was a necessary amendment to the 1975 Family Law.

“It’s a fair, necessary, up-to-date, modern norm that gives rights and guarantees to the full diversity of all people, families, peoples and beliefs,” he told reporters.

Cubans over the age of 16 are asked to simply vote “yes” or “no” to the question “Do you agree with the family law?”

The updated code is more masculine and represents a major shift in a country where authorities sent homosexuals to military labor camps in the 1960s and 1970s.

Since then, the government’s attitude has changed, and the government has conducted a strong media campaign in support of the new norm.

But the referendum comes in the midst of the worst economic crisis in 30 years and could provide an opportunity for some voters to speak out against the government.

A 50 percent or more vote is required for a law to be passed, and dissidents are calling on citizens to either reject the law or abstain from voting.

If approved, the new code would strengthen the rights of children, the elderly, and the disabled while allowing surrogate pregnancy as long as no money is exchanged.

The key is to define marriage as the union of two people, not the union of a man and a woman.

Gay activist Michael Gonzalez tweeted: “We are not voting for the PCC (Cuban Communist Party). It is the PCC that is voting for us.”

“‘I am a Christian, I have other thoughts’-

Several Latin American countries now allow same-sex marriage, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and some Mexican states.

Havana attempted to join the group in 2019, but failed amid strong criticism from church leaders.

This month, Cuba’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference announced its position against several aspects of the new norm, including surrogate pregnancy and adoption by same-sex couples.

However, many Cubans now say they support such ideas.

“A few years ago, I wouldn’t have accepted this code,” former Marxist teacher Elio G√≥mez, 78, told AFP at a polling station in Havana. “But you have to keep up. It’s very human code, and it’s completely all-encompassing.”

Others disagreed.

“I’m a Christian. I have other ideas. I don’t accept this,” said Zulika Corso, a 65-year-old teacher.

“The More Important Subject”

The code’s extensive reach, which includes about 500 articles, has cast doubt on some people who say they consent to same-sex marriage but not surrogate pregnancy, for example.

The code has been the subject of months of intense debate across Cuba.

Yet political scientist Rafael Hernandez called it “the most important human rights law” since the 1959 Revolution.

Cuba is going through a deep economic crisis today, lacking food, fuel and medicine, exacerbated by the collapse of tourism due to US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts say voters can use this opportunity to voice their broad disapproval of the government.

“There are many other subjects that are more important than family law, such as lack of food and many people going hungry,” concierge Julio Cesar Vazquez told AFP. rice field.

Polling places close at 6 p.m. local time.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/cubans-voting-landmark-liberalisation-family-code-2964391 Cubans Vote for Groundbreaking Family Law Liberalization

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