Pioneer Ruling in Cuba Grants Custody of Children to Grandmother With Lesbian Partner

Violeta Cardoso obtained legal custody of her three grandchildren, after their mother, daughter Karen Díaz, died of lymphatic cancer in March 2016. (Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, 28 January 2018 — A Cuban court granted custody of three children to a grandmother who lives with her same sex partner, who was recognized as a key figure in the upbringing of the children, an unheralded event in a country where gay marriage is not legally recognized.

The October 2017 ruling in favor of 54-year-old Havanan Violeta Cardoso, was posted on the Facebook page of the Cuban community Accepto, which seeks to open a space for dialogue in favor of the legalization of equal union in the island.

Cardoso obtained legal custody of her three grandchildren after her daughter, their mother Karen Diaz, died of lymphatic cancer in March 2016.

According to the document, Karen Díaz gave birth to two girls and a boy during the time she was married to Guillermo Gómez, who “neglected his duties as a father,” including during the mother’s illness.

In that period, the grandmother of the children, Violeta Cardoso, “together with her partner, the children’s godmother, and the children’s mother, jointly assumed, among the three of them, the duties of feeding, caring for and educating the children,” says the ruling.

After the death of the mother, the de facto guardianship of the children was left in the hands of the grandmother “always helped by her partner,” the text of the ruling clarifies, which emphasizes that both women treat the children “as if they were their own children.”

The decision of the court is based on the Cuban Family Code, which, although it privileges the parents in matters of custody, allows other solutions for “special reasons.”

In this case, the value of the “extended family” formed by aunts, uncles and grandparents in the interest of the well-being of the children was recognized.

“The legal system must be compatible and consistent with the reality in which it develops, and ours does not fall below these expectations,” said the court.

The coordinator of Accepto, Lidia Romero, highlighted to EFE the significance of this “important precedent,” which the group sees as another “step forward” for the Cuban LGTBI community.

“The decision of the judges was praiseworthy, because it is evident that for them there was no possible solution other than granting custody to Violeta Cardoso, it is an acknowledgment of fact and of law,” she says.

Romero adds that in this case the formal guardianship is given to the grandmother, not to the couple, because the link between them is not a legally defined one; the community intends to consult with a family law specialist to understand the legal effects of this decision.

“Up to now it’s the first similar case we know of; we’ve put out a call on our Facebook page to see if there are any similar ones,” she said.

Violeta Cardoso and her partner, Isabel, were contacted by EFE, but declined to comment.

Accepto Cuba is an alternative community to the official voices that advocate for a legal change to recognize homosexual families in their right to formalize their unions, to adopt and, in the case of lesbians, to use assisted reproduction.

In Cuba official efforts on behalf of the LGTBI community are led by the state-run National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), led by Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro.

Within Cenesex, Castro has promoted sex change operations for transsexuals, the labor rights of the LGBTI community and has presented before the Parliament a bill, still pending, that would modify the current Family Code, with aspects such as legal union between same-sex couples.


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