Cubans approved gay marriage by a large vote in a referendum

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HAVANA, Sept 26 (Reuters) – Cubans overwhelmingly approved gay marriage and adoption on Sunday in a government-sponsored referendum that also strengthened women’s rights, the national electoral commission said on Monday.

More than 3.9 million voters voted to ratify the code (66.9 percent), while 1.95 million voted against ratification (33 percent), Commission President Alina Balseiro Gutierrez said on state-run television Monday.

“Justice has been served,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel wrote on Twitter.

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“It pays a debt with several generations of Cuban men and women whose family projects have been waiting for this law for years,” he said.

The 100-page “family law” legalizes same-sex marriages and civil unions, allows same-sex couples to adopt children and promotes the equal sharing of domestic rights and responsibilities between men and women.

According to the election board’s preliminary results, 74 percent of the 8.4 million Cubans eligible to vote participated in Sunday’s referendum.

There are no independent observers for Cuban elections, although citizens can observe the counting of votes in their own regions. Sporadic local reports of the district count on social media appeared to agree with the official results.

The results were announced as Diaz-Canel chaired an emergency meeting as the Caribbean island prepared for Hurricane Ian to pass its western tip early Tuesday.

On official Twitter accounts, the hall erupted in applause and the president leaned back and smiled at the news. The Cuban president led the campaign to approve the code.

By Cuban standards, Sunday’s turnout was relatively modest, and the 33 percent “no” vote was relatively high in the communist-run country, where in past referendums the government’s position has received near-unanimous approval.

The disagreement is a reflection of both how Cuba is changing and the current dire economic conditions that have seen long blackouts and lines for food, medicine and fuel.

Sunday’s vote was also the first of its kind because most residents have had access to the Internet, allowing dissenting views to spread more widely.

(The story corrects the reference to the fact that the referendum is the first since mobile internet was legalized in the last paragraph)

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Reporting by Marc Frank, editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our standard: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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