A Cuban sexologist has shocked her communist country by suggesting that gays, lesbians, transsexuals, transvestites and transgender people should be granted legal protection under forthcoming reforms.

Mariela Castro, director of the National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), is calling for new measures including non-discrimination on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity.

She also advocates the introduction of same-sex unions and adoption rights, and major reforms relating to health care and treatment of trans people.

Speaking to www.IPSnews.net, Miss Castro, who is the niece of Cuban Leader Fidel Castro and daughter of current president, Raúl Castro, admitted reform was necessary to address the country’s poor history on gay rights.

Speaking of the 1960s, she criticised the Communist party saying: “A revolutionary ideology should be truly revolutionary throughout, not just in some aspects. But the ideology of that era was deeply prejudiced against homosexuals.”

However she added that the potential reforms marked a gradual change of attitude in the party, saying: “Now they’re adopting more inclusive attitudes. Fortunately, they have learned and become aware of those errors and many others.

“What we are doing is helping it progress along the learning curve.

“What we have to do is learn from experience and take steps to move forward as a society.”