Cubans have voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in a groundbreaking national referendum, the country's National Electoral Council announced Monday.
Voters in Sunday's referendum approved a new 100-page family code. The code not only allows same-sex couples to marry and adopt children but also allows surrogate pregnancies and ensures broader rights and protections for the elderly, children and women, as well as measures against gender violence.
On Monday, President Miguel Diaz-Canel celebrated the measure's passage, tweeting, 'Love is now the law.' About 66.9% of voters approved of the family code and 33.1% voted against it.
This new legislation marks a historic moment in Cuba, a communist island where gay people were persecuted and sent to work camps as recently as the 1960s and '70s. Although homosexuality was legalized in Cuba in 1979, the gay community still faced discrimination.
The reform is a cumulative effort by gay rights activists in Cuba, backed by the government's support. The government promoted the law through a public relations campaign including thousands of informative meetings across the country and in official media.
'Voting 'yes' is saying yes to unity, to the revolution, to socialism,' the president said Thursday in a televised appeal for support.
Despite the government campaign, religious leaders, including Catholic bishops, spoke out against the proposal. Cuba's growing evangelical community openly opposed the code, saying it could threaten traditional nuclear families.
The measure had already been approved by Cuba's Parliament, the National Assembly, after years of debate about such reforms.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.