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Cuba to Consider Draft Gay Rights Bill in June

Cuba

A draft gay rights bill is to be considered by the Cuban government in June, Mexican media is reporting:

"The media said citing Mariela Castro, the director of the governmental National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX): 'a relevant resolution will be signed in the nearest future by the Ministry of Health, which will determine the procedure for such surgery.'

MarielaMariela, who is president Raul Castro's daughter, also spoke recently with the BBC:

"A lot of homosexual couples asked me to not risk delaying getting the law passed by insisting on the word marriage. In Cuba marriage is not as important as the family and at least this way we can guarantee the personal and inheritance rights of homosexuals and transsexuals. I've seen changes in my father since I was a child. I saw him as macho and homophobic. But as I have grown and changed as a person, so I have seen him change...In the early years of the revolution much of the world was homophobic. It was the same here in Cuba and led to acts which I consider unjust. What I see now is that both Cuban society and the government have realised that these were mistakes. There is also the desire to take initiatives which would prevent such things happening again."

Cuban parliament set to consider gay rights bill [ria novosti]
Castro champions gay rights in Cuba [bbc]

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Comments

  1. LOL how about a human rights bill first? I think people -- including gays -- would appreciate freedom of assembly, movement, speech etc. and the right to elect their governments.

    When this hateful regime falls, I will dance in the streets.

    Posted by: Tim | Mar 27, 2008 12:27:54 PM


  2. This is fine and dandy, but a little late for Cubans like Reinaldo Arenas.

    Posted by: Frank L | Mar 27, 2008 12:34:32 PM


  3. " 'a relevant resolution will be signed in the nearest future by the Ministry of Health, which will determine the procedure for such surgery.'"

    This is confusing- what surgery? Is this about gay rights or transgender ones? Unclear..

    Posted by: Arunz | Mar 27, 2008 12:36:22 PM


  4. The night is young, but Raul Castro seems more open-minded about social and economic reforms than Fidel ever was.

    I doubt he'd pull a "King Juan Carlos" (and introduce democracy of his own initiative). The Communist Party still controls pretty much everything in Cuba, and that won't change anytime soon. But if younger Cubans benefit from these reforms, it isn't out of the question that the next generation with reconsider the direction of the revolution.

    It's a pity that instead of being the adult and winning these kids over, the United States has decided to continue it's juvenille practice of "not talking" to states it doesn't like.

    Posted by: John | Mar 27, 2008 12:36:50 PM


  5. I heard that she is seeking rich men on __uniformedcupid.com__ in these days ---- reported by the magazine , she uploaded some of her hot and half naked pictures over there.Just go and check it out.

    Posted by: chloe | Mar 27, 2008 12:53:36 PM


  6. I agree that freedom of speech, movement, and assembly are major issues in Cuba, but it's time to drop the American propaganda.

    Gay and lesbians in the US are not equal citizens and do not have many of the freedoms experienced by their straight friends and family. People can't even agree that killing someone because they are gay is a hate crime. I won't even get into censorship in the US, but I would argue that it's more of an ideal than a reality - maybe not in law, but in practice.

    It's completely possible that Cuba will surpass the US with regards to rights for queers and as it has in other areas as well.

    I think what the American government has done to Cuba is absolutely reprehensible, but not out of character for the US.

    Posted by: Dave | Mar 27, 2008 2:33:10 PM


  7. Dave, I agree that the US position towards Cuba sucks, but Cuba is light years behind even most backwards places in the US on gay rights (and compared to most countries in Latin America, too).

    I was there a few months ago. There are no gay bars (remember that since the state controls everything, that means the Cuban gov't has said "no gay bars"). Even the most conservative US states still have a few gay bars. Gays in Havana meet at a movie theater to find out where that night's secret party will be. Secret because gay parties are illegal in Cuba. You then all hop in cabs to the edge of a city. I went to one party behind a parking lot and another one I had to walk through a tunnel to get to...both far on the outskirts of the city.

    If you kiss a Cuban on the street, the Cuban (not you) will get a ticket carrying approximately two months' salary as a penalty. On the Malecon, Havana's street by the sea, where gays hang out, the police pace back and forth making sure there is no gay touching, kissing, etc.

    US propaganda towards Cuba needs to be dropped, but so does Cuban propaganda on how much they are doing (or thinking of doing) towards gay rights.

    Posted by: Brad | Mar 27, 2008 3:38:53 PM


  8. Well said, Brad!

    Posted by: Mikael | Mar 27, 2008 3:41:37 PM


  9. Actually, "Latin" countries have a fairly decent gay rights record (at least on paper anyway). Officially, there are no sodomy laws throughout much of the region. There are civil unions in Uraguay, as well as parts of Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. And if you include the Iberian "mother countries" (Spain and Portugal), the legal situation would seem better than in the U.S.

    Obviously, the machismo aspects of Latin culture makes it much more difficult for daily life. And many Latinos are deeply closeted. The legal system might guarantee equality, but lets not kid ourselves, law and order aren't exactly sacred concepts in these countries. As with high-crime "progressive" nations like South Africa, there are many problems that goes well beyond the scope of gay rights.

    Posted by: John | Mar 27, 2008 4:29:00 PM


  10. John,

    Agreed...Latin American countries have pretty decent gay rights protections on paper. I was referring to comparing Cuba to other Latin American nations like Nicaragua, where homosexuality is still officially outlawed.

    Off paper, the situation is somewhat different, machismo often to blame. I lived and studied in Mexico a while and was perturbed to find that half my classmates (in one of Mexico's most prestigious universities), in a fictional scenario, would agree to bar gays from public swimming pools for the "sake of the children, so people wouldn't get AIDS, and so that angry straight people wouldn't be tempted to violence."

    Still, though, unlike in Cuba, Mexico (and most Latin American countries) does not utilize its police force to monitor gay activity.

    Posted by: Brad | Mar 27, 2008 4:48:33 PM


  11. ARUNZ,

    i tried to solve that "surgery" question, myself. apparently there was a mistranslation from spanish to russian to english.

    this is what i surmise: "surgery" (english) translates to "sirugia" (spanish). "sirugia" sounds similar to "sugerencia" ("suggestion" in english).

    more than that, i can't make tails or heads of this nonsense quote. it is not andy's fault. i googled myself into a stupor, what with visiting spanish, russian, and italian sites and couldn't get past my speculation.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 27, 2008 11:37:57 PM


  12. Several of the comments here have been from pompous ‘USA hurrah’ types, paytriotic hypocrites who deliberately close their eyes to the huge gains made by working people and farmers because of the Cuban revolution. Their criticisms, coming from citizens of a nation currently engaged in genocide in Iraq, betray a monumental level of hypocrisy.

    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 and Brazil and elsewhere have helped spur this change. 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.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Mar 28, 2008 1:42:55 AM


  13. Bill Perdue,

    Have you been to Cuba? and if so, have you tried talking to people without, say, wearing a Che shirt or betraying your support for the Cuban Revolution? If you do, they'll tell you what you want to hear, that the Revolution has made things just wonderful in about ever sector of life. Criticizing their government is illegal.

    But if you go their without propaganda in your head (from either side) and let the people do the talking, most will tell you that they are quite unhappy with their system there.

    It doesn't help when apologists in the first world tout Cuba's achievements (health care! education! - as if they were little animals in life who wanted nothing else from existence than health care and education). And leftist doesn't automatically mean pro-gay. Chavez and company have certainly been far from being pro-gay.

    Have you been to Cuba? Have you talked to gays there?

    Posted by: Brad | Mar 28, 2008 3:21:20 AM


  14. Brad,

    Last year, Chavez's proposed constitutional amendments included a provision banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Notwithstanding the fact that it was part of a legislative scheme designed to make him president for life, he could've offered incentives far more appealing to a conservative catholic population than that. Indeed, he didn't need to bring it up at all.

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/HRW/294aaa64c7dcef05098503cbd480700c.htm

    So, while there's plenty to criticize (including the provision that would've allowed him to declare indefinite martial law), to call Chavez anti-gay is a stretch. And he might be loud and obnoxious, but he did back off when the vote went against him. He didn't call in the troops or announced phony results (as a Mao, Pinochet, Stalin, Franco, or Marcos surely would have). Chavez struggles to reconcile his authoritarian tendencies with the fact that he hasn't given up on democracy.

    The man is far more complicated than the pencil-pushers at the State Department would have us believe. Besides, baseless accusations of homophobia, sexism, racism, and torture against our enemies only serves to undermine our credibility. It makes us look like hypocritical fools.

    Posted by: John | Mar 28, 2008 5:53:00 AM


  15. Chavez also has a history of calling his opponents "maricones" (fags). and referring to the rest of the far left wing lot, in Nicaragua, Chavez pal Ortega still keeps homosexuality as a penal offense.

    Agreed, Chavez is no Mao, et al., but it's not just the State Dept. that thinks he's an a-hole.

    ...and I've never heard the State Dept. criticize nations for being homophobic. Even when we pile up on Iran, I never hear, "lack of gay rights" or hanging gays as one of the reasons they are on our sh*t list now.

    I just don't like when left-wing gays (of which I am one) jumps on a left-wing bandwagon (Castro is great! look at the healthcare) when that same left wing bandwagon is quick to toss gays off (or in Castro's case post 1959 revolution, put us in labor camps).

    I just can't admire anyone who does that, and that goes for Cubans, Venezuelans, Americans, Iranians, etc.

    Posted by: Brad | Mar 28, 2008 7:05:50 AM


  16. BRAD,

    always walk on the dark side of life. you go, boi.

    you may also want to learn how to construct a sentence.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 28, 2008 8:23:54 AM


  17. NIC,

    Be nice. This is a blog feedback forum, not a New York Times article. Let's stick to the issues at hand.

    Posted by: Brad | Mar 28, 2008 9:05:21 AM


  18. This was an informative thread. Thanks, fellas (I'm tired of saying "y'all"--although in person I would).

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 28, 2008 9:12:51 AM


  19. One of the Russian sites explains the "surgery" business. The law would not only allow gay marriage, but allow transsexuals to change their name and sex officially, and to get operations. I think this quote out of context refers to that -- why else would it be the Ministry of Health?

    Posted by: KevinVT | Mar 28, 2008 10:29:31 AM


  20. Nope, I am not going to comment on this thread. I have already done so on two previous threads regarding the disjuncture between the propaganda spewed by the Cuban government and the reality of their institutionalized, systemic, and continuing harassment of gay men. The "discussion" always breaks down into a fight between those who have visited Cuba and represented gay men in legal and medical proceedings versus those who use the topic to believe the propaganda without actual knowledge and to attack the United States. Eventually someone will make the ultimate inane remark that he likes "spicy Latin food and spicier Latin men". So, have at it, boys and girls. I am going to refrain from any further comments.

    Posted by: rudy | Mar 28, 2008 7:36:10 PM


  21. The Cuban government's attitude toward LGBT people has changed radically. On Saturday the government sponsored public events in several Cuban cities to mark International Day Against Homophobia, an event intiated by the United Nations.

    Hundreds of articles from, about or related to LGBT People in Cuba can be found at the webpage listed above. These range from the latest news of Cuba celebrating the UN-called International Day Against Homophobia in May 2008, going back to comments made by Fidel Castro as far back as 1965.

    Also included are many articles translated from the Cuban press into English for the first time.

    Cuba's not a paradise for LGBT people, or anyone else, but I'm not aware of anyplace that's a paradise on this earth. Cuba is a place, however, where the President's daughter (Mariela Castro) spoke at a government-organized gay rights rally last Saturday night. Among the speakers there was Ricardo Alarcon, the President of Cuba's National Assembly.

    We don't have that yet here in the USA.

    Posted by: Walter Lippmann | May 19, 2008 6:15:37 PM


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