Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES – A few months before Pope Francis’ visits Cuba, the island still presents his Holiness with a nation where homosexuals are still unable to enjoy the rights emanating from an institution such as marriage.
This past 26th of June, the US Supreme Court affirmed the legality of same-sex marriages and joined the twenty different countries on five continents that officially acknowledge this agreement between two consenting adults.
The decision has prompted a joyful response in the media and discontent among some Catholic elites around the world, very close in their opinions to the government elites in Cuba, who refuse to update their morals while updating their economic agendas.
Rumors about a supposed Family Code that acknowledges same sex relationships (a document no activist I know has ever actually read) continues to be presented as a triumph of the LGBT community on the island.
However, at the beginning of the year, in response to a petition made by activist Jimmy Roque Martinez, the Cuban parliament declared that “The National Assembly has not received any Family Code bill to date.”
In fact, a new Constitution is currently being cooked up behind the backs of the Cuban people.
If the new charter of rights and freedoms does not change its definition of marriage now (the union between a man and a woman), it will be next to impossible to change it latter.
As we can see, Cuba resembles those 14 states in the southern and mid-western United States (Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Dakota and Tennessee) in its conservative and even backward stances on social issues (such as racism) more than it does the sister nations of Argentina or Mexico.
We know the Catholic Church is opposed to same-sex marriage and this isn’t likely to change under the reign of Pope Francis, who I imagine is desperately looking for allies around the world, while “gay fever” seems to be spreading on Facebook, Twitter, Google and even the White House. Cuba will doubtless offer him good news.
In January, the Catholic leader said in the Philippines: “The family is being threatened by the growing efforts of some to define the institution of marriage.” What of those who threaten our families?
Will Cuba’s LGBT activists be able to peacefully intervene in the Pope’s visit to the island? Will we be permitted to organize and stage a peaceful demonstration? Will State Security agents come once again to arbitrarily detain citizens and guarantee an incident-free wedding between the State and Catholic Church?
Can anyone think of anything we can do to tell the world that Cuba has not yet guaranteed these rights for non-heterosexuals, that the State organizes homophobic surveys, that there are still people who still lose their homes when their partner of the same sex passes away, that our children are offered a homophobic education, that new private businesses, such as the KingBar, discriminate on the basis of a “right to admission”?
No marriage offers emancipation or contains all the rights we would want. But, while we work for a truly just society, our friends, our families and our children have the right to a minimum of security.
I congratulate the LGBT community in the United States for its success. Hopefully, this will not make them complacent and blind them to others who suffer stigmatization (immigrants, African Americans, women, vegetarians, the poor, the workers…).
Working together is vital.
Now, will we gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers of Cuba do something for ourselves? Will we raise our voices?