Back to top

Marriage Must Be a Right for all Cubans, Heterosexual or Not

Guarantees, like joint property, and inheritances, depend on the formalization of the relationship. Gay and lesbian couples in Cuba, in this sense, are excluded.

Cuban activists Isbel Díaz and Jimmy Torres getting married in Miami in September 2019.
Cuban activists Isbel Díaz and Jimmy Torres getting married in Miami in September 2019. ADN Cuba

Those who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman to form a family with offspring assert that gays and lesbians should not marry, given the impossibility of fertilization between two people of the same sex.

If the objective of marriage were offspring, the impossibility of having progeny would invalidate the legalization of unions between homosexual couples, but it would also illegitimate all those between all heterosexual couples who cannot or do not want to have children.

Traditional unions do not guarantee reproduction

The current Family Code, which defines marriage as "a union, voluntarily entered into between a man and a woman who are legally qualified to do so, in order to live together," does not even cit offspring as its objective, which is really saying something.

If Cuban heterosexual couples were told that they can only marry if they are going to have children, surely their answer would not differ much from that of the LGBTI community rights activist Juana Mora: "People get married because they love each other and want to be together."

Activist Raúl Soublett, from Alianza Afrocubana, points to the fact that traditional unions do not guarantee reproduction, "as evidenced by the low birth rate we have here in Cuba."

Marriage, as an institution, entails a series of rights, such as adoption, which homosexual couples have not yet enjoyed. A person may only be adopted by more than one individual when the adopters’ union has been formalized through marriage, or judicially recognized.

Article 101 of the current Family Code states that: "The spouses will carry out the adoption jointly. However, one of the spouses may adopt the other's child if the father or mother of the minor to be adopted consents, has died, has been deprived of parental authority, or is unknown. No one can be adopted by more than one person, unless they are spouses."

In June 2020 the Cuban digital magazine for the empowerment of the LGBTI community, Q de Cuir, published a story that a couple made up of a Cuban woman and an American one had managed to register their son. On  the birth certificate issued by the Ministry of Justice, both are listed as mothers.

Although the story is encouraging for lesbian couples in Cuba, it also reflects the impossibility of two women having access to assisted reproduction on the island. "Paulo was born in Florida, where her mother, Hope, is from, and where they managed to access the assisted reproduction service after verifying that in Cuba any procedure of this type was impossible for a couple of women," the note explains.

If both women had been Cuban residents, and unable to travel abroad to use this service, they would not have been able to have their child.

No right to inheritance or joint property

Other guarantees that depend on the formalization of a relationship through marriage or judicial recognition are joint property and inheritances. In Cuba, gay and lesbian couples are also excluded from these. In Juana Mora's view, this is one of the reasons why marriage between people of the same sex should be approved.

"There are many homosexual couples in which one of the two people dies and the family expels the other from the house because they have no rights, even if the relationship was a long one. The worst thing is that many times the family has disowned the deceased. In cases of separation, as there is no joint property, one of the two can be left out in the cold," she explains.

"Churches and hetero-patriarchal society have hijacked marriage"

Some people, including Christians, believe that homosexual couples should be given some kind of legal recognition that guarantees their right to joint property and inheritances, but not the right to marry.

Would there be less opposition in Cuba to the approval of common law unions than to same-sex marriage? Should the LGBTI community settle for these unions?

"I think that, as activists, we are all convinced that we are striving for marriage," says Lidia Moreno, a lawyer and activist for the rights of the LGBTI community and women. "We are not accepting de facto unions. Although the de facto union entails the same rights in terms of adoption and assisted reproduction, it is one more crumb (…). Give me the same rights, and then I'll decide (…). For example, I myself am against marriage, but I defend it as a right."

Raúl Soublett believes that both marriage and de facto unions should be approved. "Not all people want to get married. What's not right is for de facto unions to be approved for people in the LGBTI community, and marriage being just for heterosexual people. That segregation would mean categorizing people from the LGBTI community as second-class citizens. It's discriminatory."

Juana Mora believes that "churches and hetero patriarchal society have hijacked marriage" and cites a slogan of the state National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX): "All rights for all people."

"We totally agree with that slogan. When CENESEX does something wrong we criticize it, but when it does something right, we recognize it. Marriage must be a right for everyone. Afterwards each person can decide whether they want to marry or not," says Mora.

At a time when the new text of the Family Code is allegedly less than a month away, legislation that is supposed to include the admission of equal marriage, and is the only law on the Legislative Schedule that will be submitted to a referendum, the issue is absent from the regime's media.

Meanwhile, the Cuban LGBTI is conducting its activism mainly on social media. Posts on Facebook, such as that of former deputy Luis Ángel Adán Robles, show that the group is well aware that rights do not just fall from the sky.

Sin comentarios

Necesita crear una cuenta de usuario o iniciar sesión para comentar.