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Cubans head to polls in referendum on gay marriage

A man and a child walk past a banner that is part of the "Yes" campaign in the referendum on the family code in Havana, Cuba on Saturday. Photo by Yander Zamora/EPA-EFE
A man and a child walk past a banner that is part of the "Yes" campaign in the referendum on the family code in Havana, Cuba on Saturday. Photo by Yander Zamora/EPA-EFE

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Cubans headed to the polls Sunday to vote in a referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

The vote went forward despite preparations for Tropical Storm Ian, which is ian on the island nation as a major hurricane early Tuesday.

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The referendum involves a potential overhaul of Cuba's family code, which includes greater protections to women, children and the elderly, and allows LGBTQ couples to adopt as well as to marry.

It's not the first time Cuba has considered legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2018, the government abandoned plans for a referendum over fears of anti-gay backlash.

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The measure has faced opposition from both lawmakers and organizations outside the government, including the growing evangelical movement, CNN reported.

Evangelical pastor Yoel Serrano told CNN that it's not just evangelicals who oppose gay marriage.

"I think about 95% of Christians disapprove, but it's not just Christians. There are communists who are not in agreement, materialistic people not in agreement. A lot of people who believe in different things that don't agree with the changes they want to make with the new family code," Serrano said.

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Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who voted Sunday morning, said he didn't expect the measure to be approved unanimously, the Miami Herald reported.

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"I urge you to vote with your heart," he said in support of the new family code last week. "A yes vote is a yes to unity, a yes to the revolution, to socialism and it is to say yes for Cuba."

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