Evangelical churches in Cuba display anti-gay marriage posters against reform

Sofia Lotto Persio July 24, 2018
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Cubans members of the gay and lesbian community participate in a march against homophobia on May 10, 2014 in Havana AFP PHOTO/YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of Evangelical churches in Cuba are promoting a series of anti-gay marriage posters to oppose the planned constitutional reform.

The constitutional change would make the definition of marriage gender-neutral, defining it as the “voluntary and consensual union between two people without distinction of sex.” After being approved by the country’s legislative assembly over the weekend, the reform will have to pass a popular vote to be approved—hardly a hurdle in the one-party state.

The most vocal opposition to the legalisation of same-sex unions has come from a group comprising five denominations—the Cuban Evangelical League, the Western Baptist Convention, the Eastern Baptist Convention, the Cuban Methodist Church, and the Assemblies of God Evangelical Church—who co-signed a letter on June 28 affirming their belief that the family is “a divine institution created by God and that marriage is exclusively a union between a man and a woman.”

People walk towards a new little chapel built with donations from Cubans living abroad outside the Saint Lazarus Church at Saint Lazarus National Sanctuary, El Rincon, Havana, on July 2, 2018 (Photo by Yamil Lage//AFP/Getty)

The letter, which was posted online by Cuban LGBT+ activist Isbel Diaz-Torres, also stated that same-sex marriage has no place in communist countries, citing China, Vietnam and even North Korea as examples.

Members of the congregations have since been plastering both churches and neighbourhoods with posters reading anti-gay slogans such as “I am in favour of the original design—the family as God created it” displaying the stick figures of a man, a woman and two children. They have held a fasting over the weekend to protest the constitutional reform, according to the US-based Cubanita Now publication.

Local LGBT+ activists have fought back creating their own posters in support of same-sex marriage, portraying different examples of family configurations and expressing support for the “Cuban design—a very original family,” Reuters reported.

LGBT+ people in Cuba were once persecuted and sent to prison labor camps under the leadership of Fidel Castro, who led a coup against the US-backed regime of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Homosexual acts were decriminalised in 1979 and in 2006 Castro admitted his responsibility in the “great injustice” against the LGBT+ community.

Mariela Castro (L) speaks during a press conference to mark the 11th. Cuban day against homophobia and transphobia in Havana, on May 4, 2018 (Photo by Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty)

His niece Mariela Castro, daughter of Fidel’s brother and successor Raul Castro, has become a vocal supporter of LGBT+ rights in the country in her role as director of Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education. She has championed initiatives such as making the state pay for gender affirmation surgeries and same-sex couples adoption. Reacting to the assembly’s approval of the new constitutional draft allowing for same-sex marriage, she commented: “It’s a wonderful step and I celebrate it.”

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