Cuba’s government published a draft of a possible new family code on Wednesday, September 15th. Many of Cuba’s liberal organizations, including the LGBTQ+ community, have cautiously cheered on the draft, afraid of the possible things that may happen to it before it gets implemented.
The draft of Cuba’s new family code presents a striking change to its 1975 Family Code. One of the biggest and controversial changes is the definition of marriage. The draft of the new code explicitly defines marriage as a “voluntary union of two people… with absolutely equal rights and obligations.” Aside from redefining marriage, the new code also broadens the criteria for adoption, paving the way for same-sex couples’ inclusion. This code also allows children to play a more significant role in decisions that will affect them.
Oscar Silveira Martinez, Cuba’s Justice Minister, explained that the version of the family code presented in the draft is “consistent with the constitutional text.” He added that the new code will “develop and update the various legal-family institutions in correspondence with the humanistic nature of our social process.”
The Vice President of the National Union of Jurists of Cuba, Yamila Gonzalez Ferrer, also expressed support for the new code. Gonzalez said that it will protect “all expressions of family diversity and the right of each person to establish a family.” Martinez and Gonzalez both agree that the new family code is consistent with Cuba’s constitution.
Legal experts claim that Cuba’s 1975 Family Code is no longer compatible with the current social atmosphere, especially with Cuba’s 2019 Constitution. Article 3 of Cuba’s Family code legally allows marriage for girls as young as 14 years old and 16 years old for boys. This legal age of marriage comes in indirect conflict with Article 42 of Cuba’s 2019 Constitution that states that “All people are equal before the law.”
Not everyone is excited about Cuba’s draft of a new Family Code. Cuba, a dominantly Catholic country with 60% to 70% identifying as Catholics, experienced resistance to the new code. The religious groups in Cuba are known to be politically active. In 2018, the Cuban government backed down from adding same-sex marriage recognition to a draft for their new constitution because of the pressure from religious camps.