A gay Cuban couple’s long wait to tie the knot

A gay Cuban couple’s long wait to tie the knot


Adiel Gonzalez, a 32-year-old former theology student, had to break with his church eight years ago because of his sexuality.

He became a passionate activist for LGBTQ+ rights and on Thursday tied the knot with longtime partner and fellow activist Lazaro Gonzalez in one of the first gay weddings celebrated in Cuba.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of the couple and others like them, Cuba finally legalized same-sex marriage on September 25, after a long battle against religious and cultural opposition in the socially conservative country.

Passed last month, Cuba’s Family Code not only allows for legal partnerships, but also for adoption, surrogacy for same-sex couples and parental rights for non-biological mothers and fathers.

“For us, who were so directly involved in the struggle that was ‘part of our daily lives … for seven straight years, the wedding was the conclusion, the climax,'” Adiel Gonzalez told AFP alongside his new husband , a 52- year-old artist, at her home in Bolondron, central Cuba.

On Thursday, Lazaro Gonzalez got up very early to prepare the banquet, to which only the couple’s closest family and friends were invited.

He cooked traditional dishes like fried rice, a casava dish called “yuca al mojo” and sweet plantains.

“We’ve waited for this moment for so long, it was a dream,” he told AFP over coffee before getting dressed for the ceremony.

In the only registry office in the city, which has around 7,000 inhabitants, the two happily said yes.

– Church opposition –

Cubans voted in a referendum last month to allow same-sex marriage, joining only eight other countries in Latin America where it is legal: Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile and some Mexican states .

The approved Family Code, supported by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, replaced the 1975 legislation that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The government had already attempted to change this in the 2019 constitution, but withdrew its proposal against strong opposition from churches and conservative groups.

The marginalization of LGBTQ+ people in traditional Cuban macho society peaked in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 2010, Fidel Castro admitted that the Cuban Revolution had oppressed members of the community as dissenters, including using forced labor camps for re-education. Some were driven into exile.

A major opponent of the family code is Cuba’s powerful Catholic Church, which claims “it is a child’s right to have a father and a mother.”

– ‘God doesn’t care’ –

Adiel Gonzalez, who wears a religious cross around his neck, said he was born into a “very conservative and fundamentalist” Christian family.

“I was taught to reject homosexual urges. Even love was considered a sin,” he said.

Since the age of 11 he has tried to “change” through prayer.

“But it didn’t work because sexual orientation is not a choice,” he told AFP. “I am convinced that God does not care about sexual orientation.”

By the time he turned 20, Adiel had accepted his sexuality. He tried to promote grassroots acceptance at his local church, but eventually broke away from the church in 2014 to start an LGBTQ+ Christian activist group.

It was a painful process.

“I’ve been in the crossfire for engaging in activism from the standpoint of my Christian identity,” said Gonzalez, who has been the target of vicious attacks, including death threats, on social media.

But he didn’t give up and campaigned for the Family Code, which was eventually approved with 66.85 percent of the vote.

“We screamed, we hugged, it was very emotional,” said Lazaro of the referendum result. “It was really worth it” the fight.

“We don’t need a signature to be happy, but for society to recognize that we’re just like any other heterosexual in a relationship and that it’s very important for us to have legal protection,” he added when he wrote his Husband hugged.

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