Explained | Highlights of the 2022 Cuba Family Code

The new Family Code was accepted by a majority of two-thirds of voters.

Updated - October 03, 2022 03:32 pm IST

Published - October 03, 2022 01:56 pm IST

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz Canel walks with his wife Lis Cuesta Peraza before casting his vote at a polling station during the new Family Code referendum in Havana, Cuba, on September 25, 2022.

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz Canel walks with his wife Lis Cuesta Peraza before casting his vote at a polling station during the new Family Code referendum in Havana, Cuba, on September 25, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

The story so far: In a referendum held on Sunday, September 25, citizens of Cuba voted to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption in the country. The new legislation, called the Cuba Family Code, is a big step up from the 1960s and 1970s when members of the LGBTQ community were persecuted in the country and sent to militarised labour camps.

In a tweet, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez congratulated the people of Cuba on the result of the historic referendum, calling it “justice”.

The Family Code was accepted by a majority of two-thirds of voters. However, the turnout, at 74%, was lower than the last referendum when the updated version of the Constitution was adopted in 2019 – around 90% of Cubans had come out to vote back then, news agency AFP reported. The percentage was also the lowest the Communist government received in a vote since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.

The provisions of the new Code were decided through scientific research, and proposals from the National Assembly’s Standing Committee for Children, Youth and Equal Rights for Women, and the Federation of Cuban Women, along with the National Union of Jurists of Cuba, as well as the Ministry of Justice, the People's Supreme Court, the Attorney General's Office, the National Organization of Collective Law Offices, the ministries of Education, Higher Education, Labour and Social Security, Public Health, Foreign Affairs, the National Centre for SexEducation, and others.

Why was the new Code needed?

According to the new Family Code, while the Code of 1975 helped in developing public policies aimed at the “protection of children and adolescents, and the empowerment of women”, society has evolved and the characteristics that define a family have changed substantially since then.

Highlights of the 2022 Cuba Family Code


One of the most important features of the new Family Code is equality between all citizens irrespective of any factor.

The Code provides for equality between men and women and equal distribution of time spent on domestic work among all family members – a role traditionally fulfilled by women rather than men.

The Code also recognises the rights of women to make decisions pertaining to their bodies.

Per Article 208 the Code, marriages in the country are to be constituted based on equality of rights and duties of both spouses. This includes, all domestic and economic matters, among other things.

The 2022 Family Code also lists equality and non-discrimination as one of the governing principles of relationships that develop in the family environment. Other principles include individual and shared responsibility, solidarity, the pursuit of happiness, fairness, respect, superior interests of children and adolescents, respect for the wishes, desires and preferences of older adults and people with disabilities, and balance between family public order and autonomy.

Same-sex marriages and adoption

Article 36 of Cuba’s Constitution, 1976 defined marriage as a “union between a man and a woman”. The explicit mention of genders constitutionally outlawed same-sex marriages in the country. However, in the new Constitution approved and adopted in 2019, marriage was redefined as a “social and legal institution”. Language further defining marriage as between “two people... with absolutely equal rights and obligations” was removed from the draft following protests.

The 2022 Family Code goes one step further towards gender equality. Article 50 allows for families to also be created via “assisted reproduction” for parents, no longer defined under the Code using gendered language but rather as “principals”, the English translation for the word “comitentes” used in the Spanish-language document.

Families in Cuba can now, after judicial authorisation, have children through a surrogate mother. According to Article 130 of the Code, “la gestación solidaria”, or surrogacy, allows for the exercise of the right of every person to have a family. The Article also adds that it is for the benefit of couples who wish to be parents but cannot do so due to medical reasons that make pregnancy impossible, as in the case of a male couple.

Rights of children

The Code preserves the right of children to be heard “according to their capacity and progressive autonomy.” It also provides them with the right to participate in family decisions about their interests, and to grow up in a violence-free environment, protected from discrimination, abuse, negligence, prejudice or exploitation.

The Code also makes it the family’s responsibility to ensure that all the enlisted rights are provided to their children.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.