Photo: AP

Cuba’s new constitution is laying the groundwork for it to become the latest Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, with updated language defining marriage as “the consensual union of two people, regardless of gender.”

The constitution, dubbed the Magna Carta, replaces the current definition of the “voluntary union between a man and woman.” The Guardian reports that the Cuban Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the draft, and it will be put to a referendum later this year.

Pablo Navarro, 70, who in the 1960s was forced to spend two years cutting sugar cane in a correctional labor camp because of his sexuality—a not uncommon attempt at conversion—called the development “marvellous.”

“I feel proud that the new generation can enjoy this achievement even though we couldn’t,” he said.

The shift is backed by former President Raúl Castro and current head of the constitutional re-write process, who has spoken frequently about the need for a “generational change” in leadership. Interestingly, the push toward same-sex marriage was spearheaded by his daughter, Mariela Castro, a lawmaker and the director of the the director of the National Centre for for Sex Education. For the record, sex-change operations have been legal since 2008, and are free for patients.

Advertisement

Still, several religious groups in Cuba have pushed against the reform, publishing an open letter in June declaring that “marriage is exclusively the union of man and woman” and that “the ideology of gender has no relation with our culture, our struggles, or with the historic leaders of the Revolution.”

Cuba’s current constitution was drafted in 1976.