On September 25, 2022, Cuba passed a new “Families Code” in a national referendum in which 67% voted in favor of adopting this code into law. Over 6 million Cubans living outside and inside of Cuba participated in the referendum which has cemented and expanded LGBTQAI+, women’s, children’s, and elders’ legal rights in Cuba.
We see a new important development for the Queer movement in Cuba, which folks in Canada and internationally will benefit to know about. Since 1959, Cuba has used mass mobilizations and popular democracy within all levels of society towards building: agrarian reform, ending illiteracy, health initiatives (such as vaccination campaigns), national defence, and many other legal and political changes.
The Cuban people and their revolution have been in constant motion for change. Specifically with the goal of activating and including those who have been traditionally marginalized under capitalism: workers, farmers, women, youth, elders, people of colour, people of African decent, and the Queer community. Cuba’s new Families Code shows that Cuba’s revolution continues in this dynamic motion.
Trans Rights in Cuba
Trans people in Cuba have had access to free, gender affirming surgery and health care since 2008. Additionally, in Cuba, trans folks can correct their legal names and gender on official documents without surgery since 2013. Cuba also has a national network of trans people and supporters called TransCuba, designed to provide support and family counseling and build social awareness about trans issues across the country.
Cuba’s New Families Code
The new families code expands on the rights of the LGBTQAI+ community and families by expanding the definition of family. Some important highlights of the Families Code include:
It protects the rights of same sex parents to build a family whether that is through marriage, adoption, or assisted reproduction.
Equal marriage and adoption rights regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Parental rights can now be shared among extended and “non-traditional” family structures, including grandparents, stepparents, and surrogate parents.
The right to assisted reproduction.
The extension of labour rights to those who care full-time for children, seniors, or people with disabilities.
The right to a family life free from violence.
The codification of domestic violence penalties and the outlawing of corporal punishment (in Cuba, a parent’s decision to disown an LGBTQIA+ child is considered domestic violence and is punished accordingly).
The new Families Code does not limit the existing family code, but it expands it. It does not limit the rights of anyone, but again expands and extends them for others.
This new Families Code was not only written by lawyers, politicians or legislators. It was the result of the research and work over many years by sociologists, psychologists, doctors, statisticians, social workers, and other social institutions in
The debates and discussion on the contents of the Families Code took place throughout Cuba over many months in workplaces, community centres, and in the media. You feel it when you talk to people in Cuba. You see it when you observe how mass consultations and processes like this happen in the country. The popular democracy is alive in Cuba, and it is very engaging.
Cuba’s Families Code referendum was important proof of the relationship between the Cuban people and the leadership of the revolution including the government, state, and the popular mass revolutionary institutions such as the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), the University Student Federation (FEU) and others.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel tweeted after the referendum on the families Code passed, “Approving the new Family Code [#CódigoDeLasFamilias] is doing justice. 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. From today we will be a better nation. Love is now the law [#ElAmorYaEsLey]”
As we see the challenges facing the LGBTQAI+ community in Canada and attempts to roll back the rights of trans and non-binary folks, Cuba’s new Families Code shows us that a better future is possible. One that embraces diversity and respects the rights of all.
We hope you will join us in our work in solidarity with Cuba!
Get Involved in Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) follow us on Twitter & Instagram:
@VanCuba_VCSC or find us on Facebook @vansubasolidarity. You can also keep up with our work on our website: VANCUBASOLIDARITY.COM
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