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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 27, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 30
New Cuban constitution to guarantee marriage 'without distinction of sex'
Section One
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New Cuban constitution to guarantee marriage 'without distinction of sex'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

According to the Cuban state newspaper Granma, the country's new constitution will define marriage as a 'voluntary and consensual union between two people without distinction of sex.'

According to Reuters, the Secretary of the Cuban Council of State, Homero Acosta, told lawmakers, 'The possibility of marriage between two people strengthens our project's principles of equality and justice.'

The draft constitution, currently being considered by the Cuban National Assembly, would also affirm 'the principle of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity' but probably would be silent on adoption rights, sources said.

The Cuban government began work on the new constitution as part of a package of reforms following the retirement of former President Raul Castro. Raul, younger brother of Fidel Castro, became President on July 31, 2006, and stepped down April 19 this year.

Raul is also the father of LGBTQ rights activist Mariela Castro, and Granma says that he himself proposed the new gender-neutral marriage language.

In Cuban revolutionary history, 'Granma' was the name of the boat that brought the Castro brothers, Che Guevara, and 79 of their comrades from exile in Mexico to Cuba in 1956. Three years later, they were in control of the country.

Fidel's government was initially hostile to Cuba's LGBT community, viewing them as 'inherently counterrevolutionary' and a 'deviation incompatible with the revolution.' Gay sex was legalized in 1979 but without any corresponding anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and no partnership rights for same-sex couples.

Much of the country's LGBT movement is centered around Mariela Castro, Fidel's niece and Raul's daughter, and the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Initially an activist for AIDS awareness, Mariela soon developed a broader LGBT rights agenda.

Mariela recently told reporters that she would push for LGBT rights as part of the governmental reform process. LGBT activists 'have the strength' to pursue change, she said, and the new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has 'sensibilities and awareness' on LGBT issues.

In a 2010 interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Fidel apologized for his regime's initial persecution of Cuba's LGBT community, calling it 'a great injustice, a great injustice!' 'If anyone is responsible, it's me,' he continued. 'We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death. In those moments, I was not able to deal with that matter. I found myself immersed, principally, in the [Cuban Missile Crisis], in the war, in policy questions.'

On New Year's Eve 2016, former 'RuPaul's Drag Race' contestant Mimi Imfurst became the first US drag queen to perform in Cuba, as a result of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The cultural effects of the US embargo on Cuba soon became evident, when it was discovered that the Cuban dancers taking part in the show had never heard Madonna's iconic 'Express Yourself.'

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