Speech at National Assembly on LGBTI Rights and National Unity
By Luis Ángel Adán Roble
Posted: 22 Jul 2018 09:59 PM PDT
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Sexual orientation and gender identity are constitutive elements of the human condition.
For many decades, medical and social sciences have recognised that, in addition to heterosexuality, homosexual and bisexual sexual orientations are also legitimate and that people who express these orientations of non-heterosexual erotic desire suffer from social exclusion, physical and psychological violence. All this leads to a violation of the human rights of these people, which is unacceptable in our project as a socialist nation.
Since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Cuba in 1997, only the Labour Code Act of 2013, in the context of a redefinition of the Party’s policy expressed in its guidelines and in the Conceptualization of the Cuban economic and social model of socialist development, has legislated favorably towards non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.
As for gender identity, it has been more difficult to understand because of the transgression of the cultural, social and legal norms that recognize masculinity and femininity from the biological attributes that define sex.
The legal norms in force in our country do not recognize gender identity as constituting the identity of the person. That is why we are called upon to defend it in the draft Constitution before us today.
For this reason, a large group of Cubans suffer from stigma, discrimination and denial of rights because of a lack of correspondence between gender identity and the sex assigned at birth. The suffering of these people begins at an early age in their families and their lives become precarious during the later stages.
Social disadvantages include difficulties in receiving quality education, poor access to decent employment, healthcare problems, poor political and social participation, susceptibility to criminal acts and increased vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections, among others.
The inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation in the equality article of the draft Constitution that will be submitted to referendum is congruent with the principles of our socialism framed in the Conceptualization of the Cuban economic and social model of socialist development.
The implementation of policies supported by concrete laws would be an act of justice and respect for the full dignity of the human being. From an ethical point of view, it recognizes autonomy and personal freedom, the identification of vulnerable groups for protection and redress due to limited enjoyment of rights, and the understanding that gender identity is not lived and expressed in the same way in each person, not even in those where gender identity coincides with the sex assigned at birth.
The definition of marriage as the union of two persons, proposed by Vilma Espín Guillois when the draft 1976 Constitution was being discussed, is consistent with the Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Although they are not binding principles (binding), they provide a frame of reference to which our State and Government have committed themselves to work within the framework of international and domestic policy.
The updating of the concept of marriage as a union between two persons does not take away rights from heterosexual persons, I repeat, it does not take away rights from heterosexual persons, but extends them from the principle of equity to the enjoyment of the legal recognition of the union between two persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The guarantee of this human right does not privilege one group of citizens over another.
Everyone has the right to form a family, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. There are several family configurations. No family may be subjected to discrimination based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of any of its members. This reality is supported by numerous national and international scientific investigations and by the legal experiences of more than fifteen years if we keep to Comparative Law.
Cuban families will be strengthened if current policy regulations are updated. In the socialist construction that our nation aspires to, the bourgeois precepts that govern the configuration of a single type of family must be left behind. Legislative changes must have an educational and transformative impact on cultural norms in relation to the constitution of families.
We deputies who support the fair changes that have been included in the draft Constitution are aware that, for many good people, some of these articles contradict their moral and religious values. We also recognize the right of different religious congregations to express their positions on marriage and the family from the doctrines of the Gospel. In fact, none of the proposals contained in this constitutional project infringe upon the doctrinal formulations that each Church or religious congregation has in its spaces and with its practitioners.
The separation of Churche and State and the latter’s duties as guarantor of human rights remain in force. The secular state must guarantee the rights of all, without privileges or detriment to the rights of minorities.
National unity is a principle of the Nation’s project of socialist and sovereign inspiration. We know this from the lessons of our history of independence that crystallized through Fidel’s work and thought. The incorporation of new references, including human groups whose gender and sexuality are not aligned with heterosexuality, will result in greater unity of the Nation. There are hundreds of thousands of Cubans to whom we owe a historical debt and who, as with black skinned people, heterosexual women, peasants, religious people and disabled people are part of this sense of Cuban identity. Denying them, erasing them or silencing them, besides constituting an injustice, fractures the project of Nation that we want to build.