Gay Marriage In Cuba Looked Like A Constitutional Shoo-In. Suddenly It's Out.

Dec 19, 2018

For months now it looked like Cuba’s new constitution would approve same-sex marriage on the communist island. That measure now seems to have unraveled.

Under the late dictator Fidel Castro, communist Cuba was a pretty homophobic place. But in recent years Castro’s niece, Mariela Castro Espín, has led a relatively successful campaign to promote LGBTQ rights and acceptance there.

Castro Espín is the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro. And it looked this year as if she were about to score her ultimate victory: getting gay marriage etched into the new constitution Cuba is currently writing.

But Tuesday night the National Assembly’s constitutional commission sent out a tweet that dashed those hopes. It said the public input the commission received did not favor same-sex nuptials. And so the proposed article legalizing it will not be included.

This is Cuba. So it’s unclear if the decision really stems from public opinion or from the objections of the island’s older and more conservative leaders. As a reminder of their lasting control, it was also announced the new constitution will not allow for direct election of Cuba’s president.

Both the Assembly and Castro Espín insisted, however, that the gay marriage issue can be taken up again after the Constitution is completed, perhaps in a referendum. Still, the constitutional drop was a setback for Cuba's LGBTQ community in light of new President Miguel Díaz-Canel's promise this year to eliminate "discrimination of any kind" on the island.