Havana, September 21 (EFE) .- Cuba is submitting the Family Code, a legislative package that includes same-sex marriage and surrogacy, to a referendum this Sunday, in an unusual and controversial vote with an uncertain outcome.

The exercise is intended to be the end of a process of several years. It began with the drafting of the 2019 Constitution and ended with the approval of the twenty-fifth version of the Family Code in the National Assembly (unicameral parliament) last July, after three months of consultation. popular and 79,000 meetings with citizens in neighborhoods and municipalities. .

The text, which replaces a 1975 regulation, envisages marriage between persons of the same sex and the possibility of their adopting, regulates “solidarity” pregnancy, the responsibility of parents towards their children and the care of the elderly, in more to prohibit child marriage and fight against gender-based violence.

The Cuban government and all state structures have turned to the “yes” campaign, including the National Electoral Commission (CEN) and the Supreme Court, with continuous messages for weeks in the official media and the social networks.

Mariela Castro, director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), talks with Efe in Havana (Cuba). EFE / Yander Zamora

They argue that the code responds to the current reality of Cuban families, expands rights and better protects minors, the elderly, people with disabilities and vulnerable groups.

The director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), Mariela Castro, stressed in statements to Efe that the code responds to an “expansion of rights” in the field of family law.

“The Family Code contributes, extends and contributes to largely guarantee the rights of all individuals and all families. This helps to further democratize intergender, intergenerational relations,” he said.

Arguments for “No”

The “no”, for its part, did not have an articulated campaign or presence in the official media. On social networks, activists and certain institutions and groups have advocated abstention or rejection of the law.

His opposition is sometimes the rejection of the content, and in particular that homosexuals can marry and adopt. This is the case of the Catholic Church, which recently criticized these points in a press release from the Episcopal Conference and asked to vote “in conscience”.

But the rejection is also political. Opponents, dissidents and activists assure that they will abstain or vote against because they consider that the “yes” implies the legitimization of the communist political system with which they do not agree.

The opposition and former Cuban political prisoner Marta Beatriz Roque explained to Efe that if she could vote – her civil rights were suspended due to a conviction – she would opt for abstention.

“I am neither for yes nor for no, nor for anything, because I know the dictatorship, I know how it works and I am convinced that at that time we already know what the result of this plebiscite will be. “, she asserts. .

Freelance journalist María Matienzo also considers abstention the best option, as she understands that this referendum has a plebiscite nature and despite her belonging to the LGBTIQ community.

“Some civil rights are not more important than others. I have no rights as a citizen just because I have the right to get married,” Matienzo told Efe, who missed a government “pardon” for the revolution’s homophobic past.

For his part, the Cuban independent journalist Maykel González Vivero explained that he will vote “yes” in keeping with his years of LGBTIQ activism.

“I am going to vote yes, despite the fact that I have a lot of criticism to make of the Government, a lot of objections to make to this process (…). But as it is the context and we are obliged to say yes or no, for me there is no other choice but to say yes. We have been working for these rights for a long time,” he said in an interview with Efe.

Part of the group criticized the fact that minority rights are subject to a referendum, when no other law – including the new Penal Code – has gone through this process. Another criticism is that the vote takes place after the publication of the Family Code in the Official Journal last August.

People interviewed by Efe assure that they will vote against or abstain because of the management of the serious crisis that the country is going through, which has dragged on for two years of shortages of basic products, long lines of waiting times, frequent power outages and high inflation.

Investigations, forbearance and preparations

Women with a baby stop a taxi in the street, four days before the popular referendum on the new Family Code in Havana (Cuba). EFE / Yander Zamora

However, in the absence of public polls, it is difficult to assess the strength of each side ahead of the referendum, the third to be held in Cuba since the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and the first on a particular law.

Nor do the experts dare to predict the volume of abstentions and its possible significance in terms of political misunderstanding or rejection of the process.

CEN ensures that everything is prepared for the smooth running of the consultation. More than eight million Cubans are being called to vote in some 24,000 polling stations.

Cubans who have emigrated or gone into exile and do not have their residence in Cuba – a group that numbers around two million people, according to estimates – are not eligible to participate.

Some NGOs have highlighted the doubts raised by this consultation, as is the case with Electoral Transparency.

Its director, Leandro Querido, criticized in an interview with Efe that it was a campaign without “guarantees”, that election day has no international observers and that, without “cross-checks “, the results will be “unverifiable”.

Web editor: Sebastián Bayona

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