Cubans overwhelmingly approve country’s new constitution

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Cuban voters on Feb. 24 overwhelmingly approved the draft of their country’s new constitution.

Maykel González Vivero, co-founder of Tremenda Nota, an independent online magazine that is the Washington Blade’s media partner on the Communist island, reported 86.85 percent of Cubans who participated in Sunday’s referendum voted for the new constitution. Official results indicate 9 percent of voters voted against it, but González reported this figure may be higher because of abstentions or ballots that were either left blank or thrown out.

El 9 % de los electores que participaron votó No, pero entre todas las formas de plantear el No (ausentarse, abstenerse,…

Posted by Maykel González Vivero on Monday, February 25, 2019

Independent LGBTI rights advocates in Cuba sharply criticized the government’s decision in December to remove an amendment from the draft constitution that would have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in Cuba. The issue also sparked a rare public debate in the country, with evangelical church groups highlighting their opposition to nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Francisco Rodríguez Cruz, a gay Cuban blogger who supports Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBTI issues as director of the National Center for Sexual Education, on Feb. 25 wrote the new constitution “backs the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in a specific way.” Rodríguez in his blog points to three amendments that “expressly prohibits and punishes under law discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity”, recognizes “the right of all people to form a family and protects all families” and defines marriage not as the “union between a man and a woman” but rather as “a social and legal institution.”

Mariela Castro and her supporters have said they plan to push for changes to Cuba’s Family Code that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“The new constitution is the result of more than a decade of citizen and institutional activism in support of the sexual rights of LGBTI people,” wrote Rodríguez on his blog.

Those who publicly campaigned against the new constitution argued it will not improve Cuba’s economy or overall human rights record.

The Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights, a group that works independently of Mariela Castro and CENESEX, urged LGBTI Cubans to vote against the new constitution. González is among those who posted pictures to their social media pages that showed their “no” vote.

“My no,” wrote González in a tweet. “And it is not even dictated to me by LGBTI community’s frustration regarding the postponement of equality that is submitted to consultation. I voted no because there is no opportunity in Cuba under the (Cuban Communist Party) and its perpetual character.”

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