Cuba Legalizes Gay Marriage

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Cubans approved a 100-page “family law” package of over 400 articles that will legalize same-sex marriage and child adoption for gay couples. The law also “allows surrogate pregnancies, broader rights for grandparents in regard to grandchildren, protection of the elderly and measures against gender violence,” according to Associated Press journalist Cristiana Mesquita. Also added are expanded protections for women, children and the elderly, and an encouragement for couples to equally share housework. [1] [2]

Cuba regularly sees laws pass with over 90% because only the Communist party is allowed. However, this vote faced opposition from newly entrenched religious groups including the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the machismo tradition of the island. The law passed by a smaller than usual margin: 66.9% to 33.1%, according to Alina Balseiro Gutiérrez, President of the National Electoral Council. [1] [2]

Legalizing gay marriage also came under the scrutiny of the LGBTQ+ community, who were subjected to state-sanctioned homophobia under Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government, which sent gay men to labor camps. Researchers at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Juan Pappier and Cristian González Cabrera, stated that the Cuban “authorities are subjecting basic rights to a political football between advocates for equality and non-discrimination and their opponents, some of whom mischaracterize their work as ‘gender ideology.'” [1] [2] [3]

Also “troubling” to the HRW researchers is “the political pageantry of putting individual rights, including the right of gay and lesbian couples to be free from discrimination, to a popularity vote…. ultimately, the recognition of the rights of minorities, including LGBT people, should not hinge on a popularity vote. That is an affront to the human dignity of already marginalized people subject to violence and discrimination, and could expose their lives and identities to unnecessary and harmful public debate, scrutiny, evaluation.” [3]

President Miguel Díaz-Canel tweeted, “El Amor Ya Es Ley” [love is now the law] and “Ganó el Sí. Se ha hecho justicia. Aprobar el #CódigoDeLasFamilias es hacer justicia. Es saldar una deuda con varias generaciones de cubanas y cubanos, cuyos proyectos de familia llevan años esperando por esta Ley. A partir de hoy seremos una nación mejor. “ [Yes won. Justice has been done. Approving the #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. Starting today, we will be a better nation.] [4]

Cuba joins fewer than 40 countries globally with legal gay marriage.

Discussion Questions

1. Should gay marriage be legal? Why or why not?

2. Should the US maintain the embargo against Cuba? Does the recent legalization of gay marriage change your opinion of the embargo?

3. Considering the HRW article, should “the recognition of the rights of minorities” be subject to general elections? Why or why not?


1. Cristiana Mesquita, “Cuba Approves Same-Sex Marriage in Unusual Referendum,”, Sep. 26, 2022

2. Eduardo Medina, “Cuba Approves Same-Sex Marriage in Historic Vote,”, Sep. 26, 2022

3. Juan Pappier and Cristian González Cabrera, “Political Rights for Cubans Should Not Start with a Marriage Equality Referendum.”, May 15, 2022

4. Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez,, Sep. 26, 2022