In an exclusive interview with teleSUR aired on Sept. 16, Cuban Miguel Diaz-Canel defended the right to consensual same-sex marriage which has been approved by the country’s assembly, as part of the constitutional draft now under review by popular referendum across the country. “Let’s not give way to any kind of discrimination,” he said.
Since winning the election on April 19, this is the first time the Cuban president spoke to a media outlet, addressing various issues, namely U.S.-Cuba relations, LGBTQ rights, constitutional reform, and Latin American politics. Widely known as the National Consultation Process, the draft constitution is the first change since the 1976 constitution.
The proposed draft includes many reforms, but adheres to the concepts of the Revolution, and is considered as the continuation of the Revolution. Cuba’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations, Anayansi Rodriguez, has commented that the Constitution Project will guide the island towards prosperous and ‘sustainable socialism.’
One of the biggest and most debated proposals in the new constitution is the right to choose a partner according to one’s sexual orientation. The 1976 constitution defines marriage as a partnership between a man and woman. The current draft looks to evolve it to include same-sex relations. This particular issue has sparked debate in the country where much of the population does not approve of the change.
Nonetheless, Diaz-Canel publicly defended same-sex marriage and asked people to vote responsibly on the constitution. “We’ve been going through a massive thought evolution and many taboos have been broken,” he told teleSUR’s president Patricia Villegas.
The ‘massive thought evolution’ has the backing of Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro. As the head of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, she has been a vocal defender of LGBTQ rights and is thought to be playing an instrumental role in influencing the government’s views on exuality.
The interview also saw an in-depth discussion regarding socialism and communism and how Cuba is trying to build a more developed state based on these ideologies. The president also said he is ready for a dialogue with the U.S. but on equal footing. According to him, the U.S. blockade on Cuba is inhumane and must be lifted for any future advancement of ties between the two nations.