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SASOD says ‘Guyana is being left behind’ as Cuba approves gay marriage by large margin in referendum


Visitors at Cuba's first LGBTQ hotel, inaugurated in 2019 (Photo: DW)

Local LGBTQ rights organisation SASOD has praised the decision by Cuban citizens to approve gay marriage while expressing frustrations that Guyana’s community is still fighting for basic rights.


Cubans approved gay marriage and adoption overwhelmingly in a Sunday referendum backed by the government that also boosted rights for women, the national election commission said on Monday.



This makes Cuba the eight country in the Latin American region to approve same sex marriage, while Guyana remains one of few countries in the Caribbean region which still criminalises same-sex intimacy.


Joel Simpson, Managing Director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) expressed frustrations that Guyana’s LGBT community continues to seek basic rights and protections while the rest of the Caribbean and the world progresses.


“Guyana is being left behind. Guyana is being left in the stone ages and the dark ages. There isn’t even a conversation happening about marriage equality in Guyana. We’re still at a very basic stage… where intimacy between men of the same sex is criminalized.”


More than 3.9 million Cubans voted in favour of marriage equality (nearly 70%), according to Reuters.


The 100-page "family code" legalizes same-sex marriage and civil unions, allows same-sex couples to adopt children, and promotes equal sharing of domestic rights and responsibilities between men and women.


Preliminary results from the electoral commission showed 74% of 8.4 million Cubans eligible to vote participated in the Sunday referendum.


Gay rights activists in Cuba have held prominent demonstrations in recent years (Photo: DW)

Simpson highlighted it as significant that the law was changed by the citizens' decisions, rather than by the Government.


“We’re seeing growing evidence of support for LGBT people across the Caribbean is increasing. As people get to know their LGBT coworkers, neighbours, friends... and get to understands them, they simply want their LGBTQ peers to be treated equally in every respect of life.”


The announcement of the results came as Diaz-Canel presided over an emergency meeting as the Caribbean island prepared for Hurricane Ian to pass by Cuba early on Tuesday.


The Cuban president led the campaign for the adoption of the code.


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