The Mayor of London has given his backing to reports of a gay revolution in Cuba.
Ken Livingstone, who yesterday joined gay charity Stonewall to launch an anti-homophobic bullying campaign in schools, said Cuba should look to fellow Latino’s in Venezuela where the capital Caracas has been declared a “homophobia free zone.”
He told PinkNews.co.uk: “The first time I went to Cuba in 1985, lots of people in the gay community said ‘you’ve got to raise this issue.’ The Cubans were completely honest
about it and said: ‘we made terrible mistakes in our early years and we regret it.'”
Mr Livingstone praised Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who has introduced anti-discrimination laws in the country and vowed to eradicate homophobia, he said: “There’s still a way to go in Cuba, that’s why what Hugo Chavez has done in Venezuela, where you’ve got all this Latin American culture of macho, the fact that he’s had the courage to come out and make that stand to ban homophobia is a sign that you can change.
“I suspect that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela regularly meets with the Cubans, so the Cuban revolution will be taking note of the developments in Caracas where they’ve taken a really good stand on all of this. I think there was this real legacy in the old communist regime of thinking that homosexuality is a perversion that only comes with capitalism.
“When I went to Western Africa as a young man, I saw the same thing, they would say, ‘there’s no homosexuality in our country, its a Western disease.'”
A Venezuelan delegation attended last weekend’s EuroPride parade in London and spoke of their commitment to the LGBT community.
Cuban President Fidel Castro’s niece, Mariela Castro, is in charge of the government’s National Centre for Sex Education, from which she has promoted issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, in stark contrast to country’s macho society and homosexual witch-hunts of the 1960s and 1970s.
Her department has previously campaigned for better AIDs prevention and promoted a soap opera involving a bisexual character and most recently pushed for a free gender transition law, which will be voted on in December.
She told the Reuters news agency that she is aiming to extend the Cuban Revolution to sexuality, “I want to bring the revolution’s humanity to those aspects of life that it hasn’t reached because of old prejudices.”
Mr Livingstone used last weekend’s EuroPride rally to speak of his admiration for political revolutionary Che Guevara, who helped lead the Cuban Revolution in 1959, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “He would have been a leading supporter of LGBT rights and the congestion charge.”