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LGBTQ: Cuba Votes To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

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In a national referendum, Cubans decided to legalize same-sex unions.

A new Family Code that will also permit surrogate pregnancies and grant gay couples the ability to adopt children was approved by around two-thirds of the electorate.

For Cuba, where homosexuals were persecuted and transported to labor camps in the 1960s and 1970s, it is a significant time.

However, conservatives and religious organizations strongly opposed the measures.

The new Family Code, a 100-page document that underwent more than two dozen versions and hours of discussion in local meetings, was the subject of the ballot on Sunday.

The Cuban government had supported the legislation reform and organized a massive statewide campaign to support it.

The country’s president, Miguel Dáz-Canel, said in a speech as he cast his ballot on Sunday that he anticipated the majority of people would do so and that the new code recognized the diversity of individuals, families, and ideas.

Preliminary results showed a “irreversible trend” on Monday, according to electoral council chairwoman Alina Balseiro, who spoke on state television, with 66% of the ballots so far counted being in favor of the reform. To become legislation, the measure needed to receive 50% of the vote.

The reforms were the fruit of the activists’ labors for LGBT rights in Cuba.

The Communist-run island’s official attitudes about homosexuality have evolved over the past few decades, in part because of Mariela Castro, the daughter of former leader Raul Castro.

Following the 1959 revolution, homosexual men and women were transported to work camps for purported “re-education” during the early years of communist leader Fidel Castro’s administration.

However, many in Cuba continue to resist the move, including conservative nonreligious groups and evangelical churches.

Some opposition groups also promoted a “no” vote, asking Cubans to take advantage of a rare chance to deny the communist-run government of the island nation electoral success.

Following a violent crackdown on all forms of dissent in recent years, some anti-government activists believe the referendum is an attempt by the state to repair its human rights reputation.

The vote also takes place in the midst of a severe energy crisis that has caused regular power outages that affect millions of people on the island.

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Covid: Protests In China Widen Against Strict Lockdown Measures

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Protests in China have increased in response to the government’s tough Covid regulations, with some citizens publicly venting their rage at Communist Party leaders.

Thousands of demonstrators came to Shanghai’s streets, and protesters were seen being bundled into police cars.

Students have also demonstrated at Beijing and Nanjing universities.

The current upheaval followed a protest in the isolated northwestern city of Urumqi, where lockdown measures were blamed after a tower block fire killed ten people.

While Chinese authorities denied that Covid restrictions were to blame for the deaths, officials in Urumqi issued an extraordinary apology late Friday, promising to “establish order” by gradually removing restrictions.

Some protesters were seen lighting candles and putting flowers for the deaths in Shanghai, China’s largest metropolis and a worldwide financial powerhouse in the country’s east.

Others could be heard yelling slogans like “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist Party, step down.” Some people also carried blank white banners.

Such demands are exceptional in China, where any open criticism of the government or the president can result in severe punishment.

One protester said he was “shocked and a little excited” to see so many people out on the streets, and that it was the first time he’d seen such widespread dissent in China.

He claimed that lockdowns had made him feel “sad, angry, and helpless,” and that he had been unable to see his ailing mother, who was undergoing cancer treatment.

According to a female protester, when police officers were asked how they felt about the protests, the response was “the same as you.” “They wear their uniforms, therefore they’re performing their job,” she explained.

Others reported violence, with one demonstrator telling the Associated Press that one of his friends was beaten by police on the scene, while two others were pepper sprayed.

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Equatorial Guinea President to Continue 43-year-rule

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In Equatorial Guinea, the world’s longest-serving president was re-elected to continue reigning over his dictatorial rule.

Officials stated six days after the poll that Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 80, received over 95% of the ballots cast.

“The results confirm us right again,” the president’s son, Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, stated. “We’re still a wonderful party.”

Although some opposition candidates ran, none were anticipated to win.

President Obiang holds sway over the oil-rich Central African nation, with family members holding important government positions.

He took control after a military takeover in 1979 and has survived multiple coup attempts.

When he took over from his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, he instituted minor changes but maintained Nguema’s total power over the country.

Political opposition is hardly tolerated and greatly hampered by a lack of a free press, as the government owns or controls all broadcast media.

President Obiang, who has repeatedly refuted allegations of human rights violations and election cheating, is said to plan to utilize his sixth term to improve his worldwide reputation.

The administration abolished the death sentence in September, which was applauded by the United Nations.

Equatorial Guinea has a history of falsified election outcomes, according to critics.

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France vote for right to abortion in constitution

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The National Assembly of France has endorsed a proposal to codify the right to abortion in the country’s constitution, motivated partly by rising restrictions abroad.

A strong majority of lawmakers voted to include a clause guaranteeing “the effectiveness and equal access to the right to stop pregnancy freely.”

The measure, according to left-wing MP Mathilde Panot, is intended to protect against the “backsliding” observed in the United States and Poland.

However, the bill’s passage will be difficult.

The Senate, which rejected a similar plan last month, is deemed unlikely to support the latest amendment. The Senate is dominated by right-wing parties, which maintain that abortion rights are not under threat in France.

A constitutional amendment would also require a referendum, however polls show that more than 80% of French citizens support it.

Ms Panot’s amendment was approved with the support of MPs from Emmanuel Macron’s ruling Renaissance party, but a reference to the right to contraception was removed.

Aurore Bergé, a Macron MP, was scheduled to offer her own abortion proposal next week but withdrew it after telling MPs how her mother had experienced an abortion without anaesthesia before it became legal in 1974.

“The issue of abortion access and protection is not a whim; it should not be politicized; it is not a matter of party politics,” she stated.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti also supported the amendment and complimented the “historic” vote.

Similar to neighboring Spain, the French parliament agreed in February to expand the legal term for abortion from 12 to 14 weeks. It is lower in Sweden, the Netherlands, England, Wales, and Scotland than in the rest of Europe.

Ms Panot dedicated the vote on Thursday to women in the United States, Poland, and Hungary. Her push to change the constitution was sparked by a vote in the United States Supreme Court to end the national guarantee of abortion access, effectively overturning the landmark Roe v Wade decision in 1973.

Thirteen US states have since begun to enforce abortion bans, and voters in states such as California supported proposals this month to enshrine the right to abortion in their state constitutions.

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