A constitutional referendum was held in Cuba on 24 February 2019. Voters were asked whether they approved of a new constitution passed by the National Assembly of People's Power in July 2018. The reforms were approved, with 90.61% of valid votes cast in favour. The new constitution came into force on 10 April 2019 after it was proclaimed in the Cuban National Assembly and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic.
While the structure of Cuban society and its political system had not fundamentally changed, the 2010s saw the Cuban thaw and more openness with the constitutional referendum, which was described as a relatively open process. Some observers noted that even though the political system remained largely the same, civil liberties had recently increased, even if not enough. The referendum recognized both private property and foreign direct investment, among other things, such as removing obstacles to same-sex marriage and banning discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, the introduction of habeas corpus and restoration of a presumption of innocence in the justice system which was last provided for in the 1940 Constitution of Cuba, and other political reforms, such as presidential term and age limits, as checks on government power. The new constitution also omits the aim of building a communist society and instead works towards the construction of socialism.
Introducing the right to legal counsel immediately upon arrest.
Introducing the ability to sue the government for damages or negligence.
Introducing the right to appear before a judge and report unlawful imprisonment through habeas corpus.
The new Constitution came into force after being proclaimed by the National Assembly on 10 April 2019. Laws which were passed to enforce the Constitution's reforms to the country's judicial system must be enacted within 18 months. An electoral law detailing the restructuring of government must also be passed within six months. A Cuban President must then be elected by the National Assembly in the following three months and then appoint Provincial Governors and a Prime Minister.
The new constitution also removes the requirement that marriage be "between one man and one woman". An earlier draft of the new constitution would have changed the language to "a union between two people" ... "with absolutely equal responsibilities". This language was removed due to backlash from the more conservative sectors of Cuban society, with the new constitution not specifically recognizing same-sex marriage, but still removing the constitutional obstacles to its recognition by specifically avoiding a definition of marriage. Mariela Castro, a Cuban LGBT rights activist, daughter of Raúl Castro and director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, has stated that this change is "not a setback" and that the issue would be addressed in the upcoming family code amendment. It is expected that same-sex marriage will be part of a new Cuban Family Code, which is due to be put to a new referendum within the next two years.