Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raúl Castro and niece of the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, has announced that Cuba this year will consider creating civil unions for gay couples, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
"According to the Justice Minister [Maria Esther Reus]... it is going to be discussed in the assembly, and is on the agenda for 2012," Castro, a sex educator, told the state website "Cuba Si."
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The Cuban state will consider civil unions but not gay marriage, according to AFP. Castro, head of Cuba's National Sex Education Center, was also quoted as saying she believed the Communist Party of Cuba would adopt a "non-discrimination policy" at a conference scheduled for Jan 28.
According to The Associated Press, many gays and transsexuals were persecuted in the years following Cuba's revolution of 1959 but the news agency says attitudes on the island are changing: gay pride events now occur annually while the state sponsors anti-homophobia campaigns and even pays for sex change operations.
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In Canada, the government has promised to close a legal loophole that had left foreigners in same-sex marriages there wondering if their unions were legally valid, according to Reuters.
In a speech given Friday, Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said his government would seek to rewrite marriage laws to allow same-sex marriages performed for foreigners in Canada to be subject to divorce proceedings — and therefore remain valid — even if the unions were not recognized by the spouses' home jurisdictions, according to The Toronto Star.
The matter burst to the fore on Thursday when court papers emerged showing that a Florida woman and the British woman she married in Canada might not be able to divorce since their union was not recognized by either of their home jurisdictions.