Story So Far: Cuba's New Progressive Family Code

Cuba on Sunday, September 25 held a referendum for a new and progressive Family Code.

Credit : Indie Journal

Cuba on Sunday, September 25 held a referendum for a new and progressive Family Code, about two third of the Cuban population voted to approve this Family Code, that supports the legalisation of the same-sex marraige and same-sex adoption. The result of the referendum suggests a win for the approval of the new Family Code, calling it the ‘2022 Cuban Family Code’. This new code will extend greater protection to women, children, elderly along with the LGBTQ couples and their legal rights to adopt. The Cuban government weeks before the referendums held a press conference in favour of this new family code, through the conference the government made it clear that the new code would act as a proof to showcase the nation's decades old revolution is capable of change and adapting to the current era.  

The draft of the new Family Code 2022 had to undergo several hours of debate, the committee approved the referendum after holding 79,000 neighbourhood meetings and 3,00,000 separate citizen suggestions. This hundred page document also promotes equal sharing of domestic rights and responsibilities among men and women. It includes that the law gives the parents “responsibility” towards their children other than “custody”. The Cuban government has backed the change along with a nationwide campaign urging people to approve it. Following the win of the referendum, the Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel said that, “Love is now the Law”. Here is what we know so far.  

Earlier in July the National Assembly had approved the 25th version of this law, this version expanded the citizens right. The text of this version supported the rights of all persons, freeing them from any requirements, status or position. Millions of Cubans had gathered to support this discussion. In 2018 the Cuban legislators abandoned provisions that would have led to the legalisation of the same sex marraige. The reasons for this abandonment were mainly fueld by the fears of homophobic backlash that would have lowered the turnout or a referendum to approve of the new constitution.  



The discrimination against the LGBTQ community in Cuba has seen all the way through 1960s and 70s, when Fidel Castro took power. The gay men and women were sent to work camps which were supposed to “re-educate” these individuals. Accepting his mistake, Castro said in an interview later that he holds himself responsible for ignoring the mistreatment. "At the time we were being sabotaged systematically, there were armed attacks against us, we had too many problems," he had said.

Eventually, the situation started getting better from 1974, when the Family Code was discussed, as Fidel Castro’s government passed a comprehensive family code that was considered to be both revolutionary and traditional. The code was formulated guaranteeing equality for women while legitimising consensual unions and the rights of children. This code fought the traditional values, and the ideal roles of men and women. Despite homoseuality being legalised in 1979, most of the gay population be it the men or the females faced open discrimination. 



The progressive work of the revolutionary government changed the situation on the ground level as several voices fought for the rights of the and the betterment of the LGBTQ community. One of the major credits should be given to Mariela Castro, the daughter of the former Cuban president Raul Castro, who was one of the voices behind the protests. She advocated through a government-funded center to improve the rights of gays, lesbians, and the transgender people. However, many still opposed the idea of legalising gay marraiges, those opposed included several church groups such as the evangelistic churches who publically advoacted agaisnt the progressive rights, apart from these church groups some of the non-religious conservatives also opposed the idea.    

The Constitution defines marriage as “the voluntary union establishment between a man and a woman”, the wording of this statement constitutionally prohibited gay marriages.  The new family code is a result of years of protests by various activities raising their voice for the betterment of the community. 

With the new Family Code being approved the Cuban president also mentioned that “It is paying off a debt with several generations of Cuban men and women, whose family projects have been waiting for this law for years, as of today we will be a better nation.” The law will focus on love, affection, care, sensitivity, respect for the community, and harmony between families.