Gay Travel Blog

Could Cuba ‘open doors’ to make same-sex marriage legal?

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The daughter of Cuba’s former president said the time was right to recognize same-sex marriage in the Caribbean nation.

Mariela Castro Espin is the daughter of former President Raul Castro and niece of Cuban revolutionary and former President Fidel Castro.

She said plans to redraft Cuba’s Constitution could lead the way to making same-sex marriage legal.

The National Assembly will begin updating the Constitution when it meets again to reflect the 21st Century, after its last update in 1976.

‘In the constitution there is a section on rights in which LGBT people must be involved,’ Castro told AFP.

‘Constitutions do not necessarily get down to specifics. They open doors so later we can talk about changing the legislative system.’

Castro Espin is the director of National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) and has advocated for years for LGBTI rights. CENESEX is a government-funded body which promotes acceptance of sexual and gender diverse people.

She revealed in May that CENESEX planned to submit proposals to the country’s National Assembly to extend marriage and other rights to LGBTI Cubans.

Her father, Raul, has been tasked with writing the draft Constitution which will go to a referendum once it is finished. He is reportedly supportive of his daughter’s pro-LGBTI efforts.

Could this be Cuba’s chance to get marriage equality?

Castro Espin said she was confident the Cuban people would support LGBTI amendments in the Constitution.

‘Before, there was prejudice against talking about these things. Eleven years ago we started holding seminars about homophobia and trans-phobia. And that helped to pave the way for dialogue among the population,’ she said.

‘There are people who are bothered by seeing LGBT people dressed up and having fun, and there are those who enjoy it.

‘We do not want to cause unease but rather instill interest in dialogue.’

Cuba’s anti-LGBTI history

After Fidel Castro to power in 1959, he sent 25,000 gay men deemed unfit for military service to labor camps. He later apologized in 2010 for sending gay men to the work camps.

Until 1993, the Cuban government quarantined people with HIV and AIDS in a state-run sanitaria.

Since 2008, Cuba has offered free gender affirming surgeries. But in 2017 Castro Espin noted that fewer than 40 people have been able to receive them.