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Cuba Assembly Approves Gay Marriage And Other Family Rights

Cuba’s parliament announced in July 2022 that the country would hold a referendum on the legalization of same-sex marriage and surrogate parenthood. Cuba held a worldwide reputation for not recognizing same-sex marriage, civil unions, and other forms of same-sex unions. The first civil union law was proposed in 2007 but the bill was reportedly discussed by the National Assembly of People’s Power and promoted by Mariela Castro, director of the Cuban Sexual Education Center and daughter of the First Secretary of the Communist Party Raúl Castro. The legislation did not reach a vote in Parliament, even though Mariela Castro said it had her father’s support.


A draft family code containing provisions allowing same-sex couples to marry was approved by the National Assembly of People’s Power on 21 December 2021. The text was under public consultation until 30 April 2022 and was finally approved by the Assembly on 22 July 2022. A referendum is planned for 25 September 2022 to confirm or reject the measure.

Yamil Lage/ AFP/ Getty Images | The planned changes face opposition from religious groups


Later on, in July, the communist state’s national assembly approved plans for a vote on the update to ensure greater rights for women and children. The changes will require more than 50 percent of votes to pass, with Cubans living abroad able to vote a week before the referendum date. In addition to same-sex marriage, the new laws will allow surrogacy and individuals other than biological mothers and fathers to be recognized as parents.


While presenting the new code and laws for the national assembly vote, Cuban justice minister Oscar Silvera Martinez said that the measure aimed to promote love, affection, care, and sensitivity while spreading respect for such communities. Later, Martinez took it to Twitter and described the day and the vote as a “historic day” for Cuban history. 

Additional information 

Yamil Lage/ AFP/ Getty Images | Cuba is already a regional front-runner in women’s rights


The text of the proposed law, which would replace legislation dating back to 1975, was put to public consultation earlier this year, with officials saying that almost 62 percent of Cubans favored the changes. In previous referendums, however, policy changes had been supported by more than 90 percent of voters. The planned changes face opposition from religious groups, whose vocal objection prevented the same-sex marriage from being included in a new version of the Cuban constitution in 2019. During consultations on the changes to the family law earlier this year, Catholic bishops in the country said that “the majority of Cubans wanted the definition of marriage to be maintained as the union of a man and a woman, as it appears in the current Family Code of 1975.”

What do we know about the law?

Alexandre Meneghini/ Reuters | Cuba’s National Assembly on Friday approved a sweeping update of its family law


The new law would also offer increased protections for children, the elderly, and other family members and greater women’s rights. Furthermore, it would allow prenuptial agreements, adoption of children by same-sex couples, and surrogate pregnancies, though not for profit. It will promote the equal sharing of domestic responsibilities.


According to the new family code, parents will have “responsibility” rather than “custody” of children. They must also be “respectful of the dignity and physical and mental integrity of children and adolescents.”

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