A man casts his vote in the referendum on Cuba's Family Code

A man casts his vote at a polling station during Cuba's Family Code referendum in Havana on September 25, 2022. (Photo: Adalberto Roque/AFP via Getty Images)

In 'Unprecedented Democratic Exercise,' Cubans Approve Inclusive Family Code

"This is a milestone in the advancement of democracy," said global grassroots coalition Progressive International. "Nowhere in the world has a family law been submitted for public consultation and subject to a referendum."

Progressives around the world applauded the overwhelming approval by Cuban voters on Sunday of the country's new "Family Code," which will legalize same-sex marriage, surrogate pregnancies, and adoption for gay couples and was approved after community-level meetings across Cuba.

With 74% of eligible voters turning out to cast ballots, more than two-thirds of votes--nearly four million people--were in favor of the Family Code. Just 50% of "yes" votes were needed to pass the referendum.

According to Telesur, the new code also includes "the prohibition of child marriage... and greater protection and care for children."

Progressive International called the 100-page document, which was finalized after more than two dozen drafts were hammered out in nearly 80,000 neighborhood meetings, "the most progressive Family Code in the world."

"This is a milestone in the advancement of democracy," said the global grassroots progressive coalition. "Nowhere in the world has a family law been submitted for public consultation and subject to a referendum."

The drafting of the code followed 2019 legislation that barred discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. It includes protections for children and care workers as well as reproductive rights and the prohibition of domestic violence, and will reform and update the Family Code that was passed in 1975 to ensure rights for all families.

As the country prepared to vote, Cuba-based investigative journalism organization Belly of the Beast produced a video explaining how the code was revised based on feedback from experts as well as voters.

"The family code is the result of a collective endeavor," said Yamila Gonzalez of the Families Code Drafting Committee. "All of those perspectives have resulted in a code that responds to the needs of Cuban families... At a time when we are witnessing the rollback of fundamental rights for women in the LGBTQ+ community, Cuba is guaranteeing all rights for all people at the family level."

The People's Dispatch, an international media project, called the referendum process "an unprecedented democratic exercise" and a "pioneering event on the global level."

At the polls, several voters told Belly of the Beast in another video that they were excited to vote to protect their own rights--as LGBTQ+ people hoping to adopt children, elderly people, and grandparents.

As the National Electoral Council announced the referendum results on Monday, President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on social media that "justice has been done."

"'Yes' won," said Diaz-Canel. "To approve the [Family Code] is to do 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."

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