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Cuban parliament considers LGBT rights bill

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  1. Bill Perdue 28 Mar 2008, 7:13am

    Actually, Latin America as a whole is beginning to undergo a sea change regarding GLBT rights and that very good news for our GLBT brothers and sisters in that priest ridden continent. The elections of left wing and populist governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and elsewhere have helped spur this change as has the example provided by the socialist government in Spain.The corrective initiatives by several sectors of the Cuban government and the Communist Party reflect that. Their admission of past oppression of gays and lesbians, however tentative and timid, are good first steps. But they are not yet substantive. They need to repeal much of their penal code and modify it’s more draconian measures. For example Article 299: “pederastia con violencia” is an undefined offence that appears to include consensual sex and mandates penalties of from eight years imprisonment to death. Another, Article 303a: “importune a otro con requerimientos homosexuales,” or creating a “public scandal” includes touching, fondling, kissing and cruising. If someone, for instance your average homophobic cop happens to “take offense”, the penalties range from three months to a year in jail. These laws and their enforcement by bigoted police and prosecutors mirror the situation in the US and the EU until recently. They need to be repealed and be replaced by a ‘hands off’ policy that emphasizes total acceptance of our rights. One of the differences between Cuba and the United States is that racist, anti-union and misogynist activity is punished there, and that includes hate crimes, discrimination and hate speech. Here racism, the oppression of women and antiunion activities are not only common they’re encouraged by politicians and religious cults. The spate of murders of GLBT youths in February is directly attributable to politicians like Barney Frank who ditched our agenda and the steady drumbeat of bigotry from religious cults. Given the fact that its common knowledge that the Cuban government and the Communist Party encouraged and later tolerated homophobia the situation won’t change much until these two institutions launch an educational campaign to explain why homophobia is wrong and why it’s important that the GLBT communities have their own press and journals, venues like dance clubs and bars, and the unhindered right to form GLBT organizations of all kinds. At present all that is either forbidden or discouraged.