Current Affairs

Cuban parliament considers LGBT rights bill

Tony Grew March 27, 2008
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A draft lesbian, gay and trans rights bill will be considered by Cuban legislators today.

The proposed new law would grant equal rights to all citizens and is the first step towards same-sex unions and access to gender reassignment surgery.

Mariela Castro, director of the National Sex Education Centre, said:

“A relevant resolution will be signed in the nearest future by the Ministry of Health, which will determine the procedure for such surgery.”

Ms Castro is the daughter of Cuba’s President, Raul Castro, and the niece of former leader Fidel, who stood down in February after 49 years as the country’s Communist ruler.

She has said previously that she wants to “enrich the Cuban Revolution” with her fight for equality between the sexes and gay rights.

The 45-year-old psychologist has been the director of the National Sex Education Centre since 2000.

Recently, she has been campaigning in defence of LGBT rights in Cuba, a task she describes as difficult due to the patriarchal society she lives in.

“I’m deeply sorry about what occurred in my country, about what occurred in the revolution, when the revolution has had a very strong orientation towards humanism,” she said in 2007.

Sexual diversity was seen by Fidel Castro as a corrupt consequence of capitalism.

Homosexual sex was partially decriminalised in Cuba in 1979 and an equal age of consent was introduced in 1992.

While social attitudes towards gay people are generally negative, the capital city Havana has a thriving gay scene but all gay rights organisations are banned.

Under Fidel Castro many gay men suffered in Cuban labour camps as the regime ‘re-educated’ homosexuals.

Gays were incarcerated in Military Units to Aid Production (UMAPs) between 1965 and 1968.

Castro believed that hard work would rid the men of their “counter-revolutionary tendencies.”

The proposed change to Cuban family law would put members of same-sex unions on a par with heterosexuals.

In January the Cuban culture minister Abel Preito gave public support to gay marriage.

“I think that marriage between lesbians, between homosexuals can be perfectly approved and that in Cuba that wouldn’t cause an earthquake or anything like that,” said Mr Prieto, who is also a member of the powerful Politburo of the Communist party and the Council of State, the nation’s supreme governing body.

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