By Emma Bello, 10th Grade
In the age of social media and the internet, the western world has grown more aware and become more progressive in terms of acceptance of minorities, especially of the LGBTQ+ community. As of October 4th of 2022, 33 countries have legalized same-sex marriage. Cuba is the most recent country to give this freedom to the community, and that makes it the first country in the Greater Antilles to recognise the legality of such marriages.
Cubans voted on a referendum to pass or reject a law that would not only legalise same-sex marriage on the island, but also allow same-sex couples to adopt. The law also referenced measures that would be taken to expand the protection of women, children, and the elderly, and will allow surrogate pregnancies. About 67 percent of voters approved the law and 33 opposed during the referendum held on the 25th of September and president Miguel Díaz-Canel celebrated its passage saying that “Ahora el amor es la ley”. This is a big step for a nation where gay men were persecuted and sent to work camps in the 1960s and 70s during Fidel Castro’s regime.
However, many Cubans are unhappy with the passage of the law. On one hand, evangelical churches and conservatives are objecting on religious grounds, other activists are unhappy with the law because they believe there are other more pressing matters that need to be dealt with first. Some see the referendum as an attempt by the country to improve its image after a rise of opposition of any kind in recent years. The referendum is also taking place during a severe energy crisis that has caused daily blackouts that are affecting millions of people across the island. Cubans are calling the government out on ignoring major issues in favour of putting on a good image regarding their human rights record.
Despite the opposition from the church and activists, the law still went ahead and that makes one wonder whether the Dominican Republic might follow that path.
A country where the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church has great influence in policy and society and members of the LGBTQ+ community have faced oppression and violence, the Dominican Republic has not had many advances when it comes to accepting and embracing this minority. Though homosexual relationships are not illegal, people belonging to the community still face oppression and enjoy less freedoms than non-members, such as the right to marry, protection in the work force, adoption, military participation, and housing discrimination protection. In fact, a law was passed in 2021 that legalised discrimination against the cmmunity in some cases.
And though private activity between same-sex pairs has been legal in the country since 1822, there hasn’t been much progress aside from that, which leads me to believe that the Dominican Republic will not be following Cuba’s path any timesoon.