Expansion of LGBTQ+ rights is strategy to appease Cubans during crisis, expert says

As Hurricane Ian approached, the Cuban government announced on Monday that about 66.9% of the voters with valid ballots were in favor of legalizing LGBTQ+ marriage and family planning.

MIAMI – As Hurricane Ian approached, the Cuban government announced on Monday that about 66.9% of the voters with valid ballots were in favor of legalizing LGBTQ+ marriage and family planning.

Andy Gomez, a University of Miami expert on attitudes in post-Fidel Castro Cuba, said the island’s communist leaders do not prioritize civil rights or freedom, but control.

The vote on the national referendum comes amid an economic crisis.

Workers remove a boat from the water in the bay of Havana, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Hurricane Ian was growing stronger as it approached the western tip of Cuba on a track to hit the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane as early as Wednesday. (AP Photo/Milexsy Duran) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“The government is trying to find ways where they can somehow appease or please different segments of the community, so they don’t see the type of social unrest that they saw that past July,” Gomez said on Monday.

Cubans continue to deal with daily power outages and shortages of both food and medicine. Gomez fears Hurricane Ian will further damage the already crumbling infrastructure, especially in the western area known for its tobacco production.

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Despite the threat of the hurricane, the government’s media on radio, print, and television headlined the results of the national referendum. The measure, which has more than 400 articles, had been approved by Cuba’s Parliament and the National Assembly.

There were images of Raul Castro, 91, his daughter Mariela Castro, and Miguel Díaz-Canel casting their ballots on Sunday. Díaz-Canel tweeted his reaction on Monday: “Love is now the law.”

A Cuban woman uses plastic as protection from the rain in Batabano, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Alejandro Rodríguez in Cuba said he voted against the measure because he didn’t consider same-sex marriage to be a “right.” Urselia Morales, 75, said she voted in favor of the referendum because this will allow all families to benefit.

The Cuban government reported that 6.2 million out of the 8.4 million eligible voters turned out to vote on the “Families Code” referendum and 5.8 million ballots were valid.

A tropical storm warning, indicating winds from 39 to 73 mph within 36 hours, was in effect Monday from the Seven Mile Bridge westward to Dry Tortugas.
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About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.