December 19, 2018 / 12:10 AM / a month ago

Cuba panel closes door on gay marriage constitutional amendment

HAVANA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The commission in charge of writing Communist-run Cuba’s new constitution has proposed revising an original draft to remove an amendment that would have opened the doorway to gay marriage after months of debate.

The commission, led by Communist Party chief Raul Castro, proposed to the National Assembly on Tuesday removing the concept of marriage from the island’s constitution altogether, according to the assembly’s Twitter feed.

Instead, the issue should be addressed in the family code that is set to be updated shortly after the new constitution has been approved. The National Assembly is set to vote on the constitutional draft this week, which will be put to a national referendum in early 2019.

“The commission proposes ... removing the concept of matrimony from the project of the constitution as a way to respect all opinions,” the assembly wrote on its Twitter account. “Matrimony is a social and legal institution.”

The commission had in July unveiled a first draft of Cuba’s new constitution, to update a Soviet-era one, that including Article 68 redefining matrimony as gender neutral.

While many younger, urban Cubans and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists welcomed the amendment, a majority of Cubans appeared to reject it.

Evangelical churches mobilized their discontent in an unusually strong non-governmental political campaign for Cuba, gathering signatures to petition against it and holding services in protest. (Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by Grant McCool)

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