Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Cuba. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Cuba. Show all posts

February 2, 2019

Just Like They Did in Miami Cuban Evangelicals Push Back Against Gay Marriage in Cuba




An evangelical prays during a Mass at a church in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. There is no official count of evangelicals in Cuba, whose people have historically been Catholics and followers of the African religions known as Yoruba or Santeria. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
    
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) 

 A Cuban government push to legalize gay marriage has set off an unprecedented reaction from the island’s rapidly growing evangelical churches, whose members are expected to widely reject a state-proposed constitutional reform in a nationwide referendum this month.

The reform is almost certain to pass by a broad margin of Cuba’s 7 million voters - language opening the door to gay marriage is only one element of the reform - but the evangelical vote could shave hundreds of thousands of votes from its victory.


With many pastors promoting “no” votes from the pulpit, the swelling evangelical rejection of the constitution is a novel development for a state that prides itself on projecting an image of ideological unanimity. Cuban government-endorsed candidates and proposals typically receive ‘yes’ votes well above 90 percent in one of last communist nations on earth, now in the 60th year of its socialist revolution.

“I can’t vote for something that goes against my principles. It’s sad but it’s a reality,” said pastor Alida Leon, president of the Evangelical League of Cuba. Hers is one of a dozen evangelical denominations that are actively speaking out against the reform. There are an estimated 100 evangelical denominations active in Cuba, 52 legally registered, and many are taking softer lines against the new constitution, or staying officially neutral. The same is true for many Catholic and non-evangelical protestant clergy. 

There is no official count of evangelicals in Cuba, whose people have historically been Catholics and followers of the African religions known as Yoruba or Santeria. The number of evangelical and non-evangelical protestants is estimated to total a million people in this country of 11 million. Among evangelical denominations with public figures on their members, the Pentecostals, Methodists and Baptists alone say they have more than 260,000 followers.

Raul Castro handed the presidency last year to Miguel Diaz-Canel, the first top Cuban leader from outside the Castro family since the revolution. Under Diaz-Canel, the Cuban government maintains its near-total control of life on the island but has made a series of concessions to interest groups including artists, entrepreneurs and evangelicals.

In December, the government softened and delayed a series of strict new controls on artistic expression and private enterprise, and stripped language out of the proposed constitution that would have paved the way for immediate legalization of gay marriage.

The constitutional change came after widespread objection from evangelical churches and non-evangelical Cubans. According to the government, 66 percent of speakers in public meetings on the constitution rose to address gay marriage, with the majority opposing it.

The altered language nonetheless eliminates the requirement that marriage take place between a man and a woman, allowing the future passage of a gay marriage. And that has prompted evangelical pastors and lay people to continue to speak out against the constitutional reform up for a “yes” or “no” on Feb. 24.

The reform maintains Cuba’s single-party political system and centrally planned economy while recognizing private property and small businesses, which have been part of the island’s economy without formal legal status for more than a decade.


A child prays during bible school at an evangelical church in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
 
The long process of reforming the constitution began in April, with the formation of a commission that circulated a draft continuing the language paving the way for swift passage of gay marriage. That was heavily supported by Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela, the head of the government’s gay rights organization.

In June, four evangelical denominations, the Evangelical League, Methodists, Baptists and the Assemblies of God, circulated a letter decrying gay marriage.

This fall, as the constitutional draft was being debated in block-level meetings across the country, 11 denominations sent a letter to the National Assembly that was signed by 179,000 people and objected to gay marriage and made 15 other demands, including greater freedom of property ownership.

Leon said she delivered the letter to the Communist Party’s Central Committee, which acknowledged receipt but never delivered a formal response, although Leon and other evangelicals did meet with government officials.

Evangelical pastors also began speaking out from the pulpit and distributing Bibles in the street along with hundreds of thousands of pamphlets advocating for God’s “original plan” for unions between men and women. The Methodist Church organized “pro-family” services that drew more than 3,000 people.

In December, the National Assembly withdrew the gay marriage section in favor of softer language that allowed a future family code to establish marriage outside heterosexual relationships.

That left many Cuban Evangelicals unsatisfied.


A child holds up a bible with a sticker that reads "I am in favor of the original design " during bible school at an evangelical church in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
“I’m a daughter of God. God established that man is for woman and woman is for man,” said Caridad Borges, a 31-year-old Methodist homemaker and mother of one son. “I’m going to vote against the constitution because it establishes something that I don’t agree with.”

Meanwhile, the Cuban government has launched a vigorous “yes” on state-run media and government officials’ social media accounts.

Joel Ortego Dopico, a Presbyterian pastor and secretary of the Cuban Council of Churches, said he would vote in favor of the constitutional reform but was telling members of his church to vote their conscience.

While the new constitution will be improved, he said the evangelical reaction to it was an important change in Cuban society.

“It will have a political impact in the future,” Dopico said.

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Correspondent Michael Weissenstein contributed to this report.

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Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein

December 20, 2018

Cuba's Panel On New Constitution Closes Door On Gay Marriage






HAVANA (Reuters) - The commission in charge of writing Communist-run Cuba’s new constitution has revised an original draft to remove the concept of marriage altogether after originally amending it to open the doorway to same-sex unions.  The first draft of the new constitution, that was unveiled in July, included Article 68 redefining matrimony as gender-neutral rather than between a man and a woman, a project promoted by the daughter of Communist Party head Raul Castro. 
Controversy over that amendment in the macho country dominated a nationwide, three-month public consultation on the new constitution designed to update a Soviet-era one. 
The most vocal critics of Article 68, the evangelical churches, threatened to shoot down the entire constitutional revamp over that single issue in the referendum on the final version scheduled for early next year.  The commission told the National Assembly on Tuesday the issue of matrimony should be addressed instead in the family code that is set to be updated shortly after the new constitution has been approved. 
The National Assembly is set to vote this week on the final version. Then it heads to the popular referendum. 
“The commission proposes ... removing the concept of matrimony from the project of the constitution as a way to respect all opinions,” the assembly wrote on its Twitter account. “Matrimony is a social and legal institution.” 
Cuba has made great strides over the past decade on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and much younger, urban Cubans and LGBT activists welcomed Article 68.  
A majority of Cubans nonetheless appeared to reject it and evangelical churches mobilized the discontent in an unusually strong non-governmental political campaign for Cuba, gathering signatures to petition against it and holding services in protest. 
From August to November, nearly 9 million of Cuba’s 11.2 million citizens attended more than 130,000 community-level meetings nationwide to give their feedback on the constitutional draft, state-run outlet Cubadebate wrote on Tuesday. 
The government has called the process participatory democracy at its best while opponents have branded it a fraud given that the fundamentals of Cuba’s one-party socialist system were never up for debate. 
Article 68 proved to be the most polemic, with the majority of those expressing their opinion on it rejecting the amendment, Cubadebate wrote. 
The second-most debated issue was the term and age limits on the presidency, as well as the mode of election of the president. More than 11,000 Cubans called for the direct election of the president. 
Labour leader Corbyn appears to mouth 'stupid woman' after an exchange with PM May
The revised draft keeps the amendments limiting presidents to only two consecutive terms and requiring them to be no older than 60 at the start of their first term, according to Cubadebate. 
The commission, headed by Castro, made a total of 760 changes to the draft constitution, from tweaking a single word to incorporating a full new article, the outlet wrote. The final version has 219 articles, five more than the original one. 
Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by Grant McCool and James Dalgleish

October 19, 2018

Evangelical Churches in Cuba Collect Signatures Against a Proposed Law That Allows Same Sex Marriage


The way any Chirstian church is set up and have put their dominoes together as in a way of faith and believes is that they will always find a way to get mix up in other people' every day lives. 
This is from the way they dress they want others to dress too. From make up to what they watch on TV. 
They believe they have to teach people how to live their lives for Christ wether they are Christian or not. Take the same sex marriage in Cuba. They take advantage of their new freedom of some expressions to control other Cubans rights. A fews years ago they could not do that. Communism is always been against religion and the believe in god  crashes witht heir own believes because they know that a lot of religious people can wash brains even better than the believers in Lenin can.  
Gay Marriage will only affect the gays that would want to get married but they(this church) believe they can tell people outside of the church not to do that but push the new open communism government in the island to not to grant it to gays. That love of Christ can make some people abuse the freedom they get to worship their god but to make other people worship it their way.  That is why the US Constitution was ammended to separate the church from the government. Still the church breaks the law repeadly to get mix up in politics as much as any politician.  🦊Adam

Image: Worshippers wave paper flags during a service at a Methodist Church in Havana
HAVANA — Cuban evangelical churches are collecting signatures to petition against a proposed constitutional amendment that would open the door to gay marriage, as part of an unusually strong nongovernmental political campaign for the Communist-run island.
Cubans have been discussing the broader revamp of their Soviet-era constitution, as proposed by the Communist Party, at official block-level meetings nationwide since August.
Article 68, which redefines matrimony as gender neutral, has sparked a particular uproar, revealing how macho Cuban society remains despite making headway on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in recent years. Cuba’s churches, which enjoy more autonomy and influence than any other organization not affiliated with the Communist Party after the country expanded religious freedoms in the 1990s, have been stoking the controversy.
“We do not in any way approve Article 68 ... because the Bible condemns it,” Pastor Lester Fernandez, 39, said to euphoric applause from around 500 people gathered at a Methodist Church in Havana one weekday morning earlier this month.
The Methodist Church is one of 21 evangelical denominations that this month started gathering signatures for a petition against the amendment.
They have also been plastering posters celebrating the “original family design, just as God created it” on their doors and windows, surprising many Cubans in a one-party country with tight control of public spaces.
Some analysts say the focus on gay marriage is crowding out discussion of other, more sensitive issues raised by the constitutional revamp, which maintains Cuba’s one-party socialist system as “irrevocable” while reflecting changes of recent years in its 224 articles.


Image: Elaine Saralegui, Susana Hernandez and Angela Laksmi, activists supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, talk to designers as they work in Havana
Elaine Saralegui, right, Susana Hernandez, center, and Angela Laksmi, activists supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, talk to designers as they work in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 9, 2018.Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters file

“(Gay marriage) has functioned as a smokescreen to hide other realities,” said Isbel Diaz Torres, an activist for many issues, including LGBTQ rights.
Diaz Torres said he would be happy to finally be able to marry his boyfriend of 14 years if the constitution were approved and the necessary legal changes made.
But he wished Cubans would use the public consultation to address other issues like human rights.
The consultation has provoked an unusually open debate for Cuba, with some citizens, for example, calling for direct elections for president. Yet some topics, like the possibility of another political or economic system, appear to remain off-limits.

HALF A MILLION SIGNATURES?

Cuba persecuted gays in the early decades of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, as it did religious people, rounding them up as counter revolutionaries and placing them in labour camps.
Castro apologized in 2010 for this, and the country has made strides in LGBTQ rights in recent years, thanks partly to the advocacy of his niece, Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). Fidel Castro died in 2016.


Mariela Castro, sexologist, National Assembly member and daughter of Cuba's President Raul Castro, marches during the Eighth Annual March against Homophobia and Transphobia in Havana
Mariela Castro, center, marches during the Eighth Annual March against Homophobia and Transphobia in Havana, on May 9, 2015.Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters file

If the constitution were approved with Article 68 in place, Cuba would be on track to joining Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay in allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Given that it already guarantees other LGBTQ rights like free sex-reassignment surgeries, this would make it an unlikely regional leader in LGBTQ rights, particularly in the Caribbean where homophobia is rife and some countries still have anti-sodomy laws.
However, the government has promised to take into account public suggestions for a final version to be put to a referendum early next year. Cuban Evangelical League Church President Alida Leon Baez said she expected more than 500,000 Cubans to sign the churches’ petition.
Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of Cuba’s 11.2 million citizens are baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, which has not weighed in on Article 68, but traditionally opposes same-sex marriage.
“If the topic of matrimony is not modified in the constitutional project, we will all vote against it,” said Leon Baez. “If this is approved, our nation is going to total destruction.”
This could put the government in a bind if it wants to prove the public consultation is a real example of participatory democracy, and not, as some opponents say, a fraud.
Cuban LGBTQ activists have run a counter-campaign mainly on social media. But they complain the government does not officially recognize most independent activists and occasionally harasses them.
That means they, unlike Cuba’s churches, cannot do big campaigns.
“CENESEX is doing many actions,” said LGBTQ activist Ulises Padron. “But we can’t forget at the end of the day it’s an academic, scientific, teaching institution.” 

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