Report: Gay March Organizers, Beaten, Arrested by Police


Troubling reports in a release just sent out by Ambiente:

“Today, June 25th, starting at ten o’clock, the first ever Cuban Gay Pride march under the slogan ‘You are not alone’ attempted to take place in Havana for the liberation and respect of sexual diversity in Cuba, but as organizers arrived at the scheduled starting point, several of them were met by Cuban police, who beat & arrested several of them.”

HavanaAccording to Ambiente, The Cuban Commission on Human Rights for people with HIV and Sexual Races, the Cuban League against AIDS, Elena Mederos Foundation, The Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam, Elena Mederos Foundation, the Cuban Movement for Gay Liberation, the Havana Transsexual Collective, Havana LGTB Cultural Center and the Organization of Gay Political Presidio Reinaldo Arenas were all expected to participate in the march.”

It was to begin in the “Don Quixote” park in the neighborhood of Vedado and march to the Ministry of Justice “with the goal of delivering their demands to the Castro government,” according to Ambiente. Demands included the cessation of violence and repression against Cuban homosexuals, and an apology to the Cuban people for the introduction in the 60’s of UMAP concentration camps (Military Units to Aid Production) that were created by the dictator Fidel Castro, to suppress and punish homosexuals and the religious youth who opposed his Marxist ideology.

The Guardian reported on the planned march earlier today.

Cuba’s Catholic Church yesterday protested the government’s growing openness on gay rights in an editorial in Palabra Nueva, the monthly magazine of the Archdiocese of Havana, which said “Respect for the homosexual person, yes. Promotion of homosexuality, no.”

There is a press conference scheduled for 5:30pm today at which details about this morning’s incident will be provided.

UPDATE: The Sun-Sentinel has reports of an arrest, but not much more information aside from that the march was cancelled before it began.


  1. Tread says

    Maybe we should start chipping in for parades in places like this to start hiring bodyguards. At least they would be obligated to protect the marchers, whereas it seems like the local police are more than happy to beat and suppress the peaceful organizers.

  2. adrien rose says

    Looks like Mariela Castro’s supposed preach for tolerance was only talk, nothing more.

  3. noah says

    This is sad but not surprising. The majority of Cuba’s population is Afro-Cubano, mulatto and black. The Cuban government has crushed attempts at any kind of organization to protest institutional racism in government, law enforcement, and business (foreign owned hotels typically only hire white Cubans).

    Gays have been persecuted for years, pre- and post-Revolution. If no politician was at the march to provide cover, or guarantee safety, this crackdown was inevitable in an oppressive regime that wants to pretend that every one is the same. To paraphrase Orwell, some Cubans are more equal than others.

    The Cuban government does not like any “minority” trying to separate itself from the population. Dissent is crushed. People should never forget that Cuba is a dictatorship.

    Of course anti-gay way are all over the world. Look at the European countries that have equally, if not more violent reactions to gay pride parades. Russia, Latvia, Belarus, etc. These are xenophobic countries to begin. (Have you read about the murder of olive skinned whites (children!) from the Caucus states or of Asians and Africans in Russia?)

    But we Americans, Canadians, and the rest of the West like to shake our heads at this kind of violence as we forget how recently similar actions took place in the U.S. Or, disregard how frequent, gay bashing is still part of our culture.

  4. kipp says

    Maybe now the breathless & naive lauding of Cuba’s enlightened stance of gays can be put to rest and that sham of a gay rights summit headed by Castro’s niece can be exposed as totalitarian PR game I always suspected it was. Maybe this display of duplicity and oppressive force will cast a properly ominous light on Cuba’s recent claims of government funding for sex change operations…

  5. thin mint says

    I had previously had the impression that this march was sanctioned by the government — was that a misunderstanding of Mariela’s unofficial statements of tolerance, or did the cops, on their own behalf, turn on a march that had been given the go-ahead?