In an exclusive interview with teleSUR aired on Sunday, the Cuban president defended the right to consensual same-sex marriage which has been approved by the country's assembly as part of the constitutional draft that is now under review by popular referendum across the country. "Let's not give way to any kind of discrimination," he said.
The current Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel spoke about various issues, namely U.S.-Cuba relations, LGBTQ rights, constitutional reform, and Latin American politics.
Since winning the election on April 19, this is the first time the president spoke to a media outlet. The interview comes at a time when the country is debating the draft constitution. Widely known as the National Consultation Process, the draft constitution is the first change since the 1976 constitution.
The proposed draft includes many reforms but adheres to the concepts of the Revolution, and is considered as the continuation of the Revolution. Cuba’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations, Anayansi Rodriguez commented that the Constitution Project will guide the island towards prosperous and ‘sustainable socialism.’
One of the biggest and most debated proposals in the new constitution is the right to choose a partner according to one’s sexual orientation.
The 1976 constitution defines marriage as a partnership between a man and woman. The current draft looks to evolve it to include same-sex relations. This particular issue has witnessed engulfing debate in the country where a vast majority of the population does not approve of the change.
Nonetheless, Diaz-Canel publicly defended same-sex marriage and asked people to vote responsibly on the constitution. "We've been going through a massive thought evolution and many taboos have been broken," Mr. Díaz-Canel told teleSUR's president Patricia Villegas.
The ‘massive thought evolution’ seems to have the backing of Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro who is a champion of LGBTQ rights on the island. Mariela Castro, who is the head of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, has been a vocal defender of LGBTQ rights and is thought to be playing an instrumental role in influencing the government’s views on homosexuality.
The interview also saw an in-depth discussion regarding socialism and communism and how Cuba is trying to build a more developed state based on these ideologies. The president also said he is ready for a dialogue with the U.S. but on equal footing. According to him, the U.S. blockade on Cuba is inhumane and must be lifted for any future advancement of ties between the two nations.