Cuba’s LGBTQ+ Community Celebrates Marriage Equality and Religious Acceptance

Written by gaymennewsApril 15, 2024

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Engaging excerpt (2 sentences): In a historic move, Cuba has embraced LGBTQ+ rights, with the approval of same-sex marriage and adoption. As attitudes shift, Cuba’s LGBTQ+ community finds acceptance and freedom to worship in inclusive churches like the Metropolitan Community Church in Matanzas.

Cuba has taken a big step forward for LGBTQ+ rights. In 2022, the government-backed “family law” was approved by popular vote. This law allows same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. It’s a historic change for Cuba’s LGBTQ+ community. They can now openly express their gender identity and worship more freely. This is a big deal in a country that was once officially atheist and had a history of mistreating gay people.

An Inclusive Church Welcomes All

Rev. Elaine Saralegui is the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Matanzas, Cuba. She wears a rainbow-colored clergy stole and a rainbow flag in her clerical collar. This shows that her church welcomes everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. “We’re all invited. And no one can exclude us,” Saralegui told same-sex couples in her church. She recently married her wife there.

Maikol Añorga and his husband Vladimir Marin are grateful for this opportunity. “It’s huge. There aren’t enough words to say what an opportunity it is to achieve the dream of so many. It’s the opportunity for all people to be present here, to gather and participate without regards to their gender, race or religion,” Añorga said.

The Catholic Church and Evangelicals Push Back

The Catholic Church still doesn’t accept same-sex marriage. They see sexual relations between gay or lesbian partners as “intrinsically disordered.” But Pope Francis has tried to make the church more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people. In December, he said Catholic priests could bless same-sex couples. This was a step towards inclusion, even though the church still bans gay marriage.

Some evangelical churches in Cuba also opposed the new family law. In 2022, evangelical pastors spoke out against it. They said that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. They called gay relationships a sin.

Cuba’s Changing Views on LGBTQ+ Rights

Cuba’s attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community has changed a lot since the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro. Back then, gay people were mistreated and sent to labor camps. But in recent years, Cuba has banned anti-gay discrimination. The approval of the family law by nearly 67% of voters shows how much things have changed.

Mariela Castro, the daughter of former President Raul Castro, has been a leading advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in Cuba. “This just brings happiness. This just makes people feel truly worthy, respected, loved, considered – a true citizen with their rights and duties,” Castro said.

A Safe Haven for LGBTQ+ Cubans

For LGBTQ+ Cubans, the Metropolitan Community Church in Matanzas is a sanctuary. It’s a place where they can find acceptance and worship freely. Nico Salazar, an 18-year-old congregant who was born female and started hormone treatment this year, found comfort in the church. He had been asked not to return to the evangelical church he grew up in.

“It’s the essence of the Bible: God is love, and other churches should emphasize that instead of repressing and harming others with a supposed sin,” said Salazar. “Sin and love are not the same. And to love is not a sin.”

As Cuba continues to embrace LGBTQ+ rights and religious freedom, its LGBTQ+ community can now celebrate their love and faith openly. They are finding acceptance and support in inclusive congregations like the Metropolitan Community Church in Matanzas.

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