Cuban LGBT Activist Takes On Conservative ‘Family Code’

Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Alberto Roque, a prominent Cuban activist for sexual diversity, posted on his blog Homo Sapiens an open letter to five members of the Cuban Parliament, in which he warns about the traditional, conservative and heteronormative treatment that the Cuban press has given to the topic of the family, precisely on February 14, the “Day of Love,” and also St. Valentine's Day in some countries.

Roque, a member of the Cuban Society for the Multidisciplinary Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES), takes as starting point an article by journalist Lisandra Fariñas, “A Love Code for the Family,” published in the country's largest circulation newspaper, the state-sponsored Granma. In the article, the journalist says:

Asimismo, el texto persigue el fortalecimiento del matrimonio legalmente formalizado o judicialmente reconocido, fundado en la absoluta igualdad de derechos de hombre y mujer; el más eficaz cumplimiento por los padres de sus obligaciones con respecto a la protección, formación moral y educación de los hijos para que se desarrollen plenamente en todos los aspectos y como dignos ciudadanos de la sociedad socialista y la plena realización del principio de la igualdad de todos los hijos.

The text [of the Code] also seeks to strengthen legally formalized or judicially recognized marriage, based on absolute equal rights of men and women; the most effective compliance by parents of their obligations with respect to protection, moral training and education of their children to develop fully in all aspects of life as worthy citizens of the socialist society, and the full realization of the principle of equality for all children.

This is precisely what Roque’s criticizes: the piece celebrates a Code that is obsolete and that fails to understand the complexity of the Cuban family. In his letter to the members of the Cuban Parliament (Miguel Barnet, Miriam Ofelia Ortega, Mariela Castro Espín, Raúl Suárez and Oden Marichal), Roque, who is also a medical doctor, proposes:

El Código de Familia vigente es conservador y obsoleto a la luz de nuestro proyecto socialista de inspiración martiana y desde las evidencias científicas disponibles. Por lo tanto requiere una actualización urgente que promueva la garantía de los derechos de un grupo numeroso de ciudadanas y ciudadanas cubanos que no nos sentimos representados en la letra y espíritu de la versión actual.

The Family Code in force is conservative and obsolete on the basis of our socialist project inspired by Jose Marti and from the available scientific evidence. Therefore, it urgently requires an update that promotes the rights of a large group of Cuban citizens who, like us, do not feel represented in the letter and spirit of the current version.

At the end of the article in Granma, Lisandra Fariñas says:

Vanguardista, revolucionario, símbolo de progreso: relaciones más justas, democráticas y equitativas al interior de la familia; que puede traducirse en más que concordia y amor, eso ha sido el Código de Familia.

Cutting-edge, revolutionary, symbol of progress: more just, democratic and equitable relationships within the family; which could translate into more than harmony and love, this is what the Family Code has been.

The blogger and activist Francisco Rodriguez, as a reaction and in support of Roque's letter, expressed on his blog Paquito el de Cuba:

De todos modos, es lamentable que no haya en toda este extemporáneo panegírico de una ley ampliamente superada por el tiempo, ni siquiera una mención a cuáles son esas nuevas “demandas” y “escenarios” sociales que obligarían a cambiarla, ni qué “modificaciones” comprende ¡ese tan largo estudio! que buscaría darles respuesta.

However, it is unfortunate that there is no mention in all this extemporaneous eulogy of a law widely surpassed by time, there is not a single mention of what are those new “demands” and social “scenarios” that would force to change it, or what “changes” are included in that long study(!) that would seek to answer them.

A new Cuban Family Code has been waiting to be presented and discussed in the Cuban Parliament for over 15 years. This proposal was promoted by the Commission for Assistance to Youth, Children and Equal Rights of Women of the Assembly and the Federation of Cuban Women, and includes fundamental changes such as civil unions for same sex couples, and transgender inclusion policies, and would make it illegal for a father or mother to exclude their children from their home or impinge on their rights.

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