Home Radio codes Cubans head to the polls to vote on a government-sponsored code to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption

Cubans head to the polls to vote on a government-sponsored code to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption

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HAVANA, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Cubans headed to the polls on Sunday to vote on a package of measures that would upend the island’s longstanding “macho” culture and legalize same-sex marriage even as the country struggles to struggling with a deepening economic crisis.

If approved, the 100-page “family code” would place Cuba at the forefront of progressive social policy in Latin America, legalizing same-sex marriage and civil unions, allowing same-sex couples to adopt children and promoting the equal sharing of domestic rights. and responsibilities between men and women.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who walked with his wife to vote a few blocks from their home in the Havana suburb of Siboney, told reporters the code abolishes prejudices and taboos that are rooted in the Cuban society.

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“I expect the majority of the population to vote ‘yes’,” Diaz-Canel said. “But whether ‘yes’ or ‘no’ wins…the popular debate that has been generated has contributed to our society.”

The code, which has been the subject of 25 drafts, nearly 80,000 town hall-style meetings and 300,000 public suggestions, is expected to draw millions of Cubans to the polls. The measure requires more than 50% of the votes cast on Sunday to become law.

Most pre-vote initiatives in Cuba have been overwhelmingly approved, but an economic crisis that has led to long lines for food, medicine and fuel has raised the possibility of a protest vote against the government.

“You have to get used to the fact that on such complex issues, where there is a diversity of criteria…there can be people who vote to punish (the government),” Diaz-Canel said. “It’s also legit.”

A billboard that reads “For Cuban Families, Your Vote Matters!” referring to a referendum on the family code that will take place on September 25, is displayed in Havana, Cuba, September 19, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Sunday’s vote will be the first of its kind since the legalization of mobile internet in 2018, which allowed dissenting opinions to spread more widely.

There are no independent outside observers of the Cuban elections, however, citizens can observe the count in their constituency immediately after the vote.

The government has flooded television and radio in recent weeks with spots celebrating diversity and inclusion to promote the code.

“This code makes everyone equal,” said Jose Antonio Fernandez, a 73-year-old retiree from Havana who voted in favor of the measure on Sunday morning.

Some social conservatives – including the Roman Catholic Church and evangelicals – see it differently, opposing issues such as same-sex marriage and complaining that government control of the media has drowned out opposing views.

Havana resident Lisandra Samon, 36, said she voted on Sunday but thought it was difficult to predict the outcome.

“The vote will be close (…) some aspects of this code have divided the opinions of the public, even of the families,” she said.

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Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Reuters TV; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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