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Mariela Castro Leads Gay Rights Parade Through Streets Of Havana

CastroMariela Castro, noted sexologist and daughter of Cuban president Raul, led a gay rights march in Havana on Saturday. From the AP:

The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro said ... that her father advocated eliminating sexual discrimination, and reiterated her own hope the country would soon legalize same sex marriage.

Mariela Castro, a noted gay rights advocate and head of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, also repeated her praise for U.S. President Barack Obama's public remarks in favor of same sex marriage, saying the American leader's words "have great value because of the influence they might have" on others.

Castro moderated her praise of the president, noting that although his words are lovely, there is as yet no federal push to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States.

Castro claimed that her father supports marriage equality as well, even though he's never spoken publicly on the subject. She insists he's "working behind the scenes" to bring about change in the island nation's marital law:

"[Working quietly] is surely part of his tactics and strategy; it is his style," she said. "I am not going to pressure him to say things publically, because I am more interested in concrete results."

Castro is hopeful that the Cuban parliament will address marriage equality when they convene in July. If they do, it will represent a rapid evolution in Cuba's stance on same-sex relationships: as recently as 2004, Havana's police were still raiding gay and drag parties.

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Comments

  1. This is just B.S. She's a member of the ruling elite. A good start would be to grant Cubans their FREEDOM. End the Communist Totalitarian Plantation. Allow the average Cuban full access to the internet and full freedom of expression, pursuit of happiness, real elections, etc.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 13, 2012 1:38:53 PM


  2. Are you going to get around to the Obama Newsweek cover? It was released this morning and is all the talk. Surprised not to see it here by now. I personally will be tuned into Morning Joe tomorrow to see the smirk on Tina Brown's face when they scream and yell at her. Always said that woman would eat a baby on the cover to sell a magazine.

    Posted by: MarkUs | May 13, 2012 2:04:33 PM


  3. Cuba being more progressive than the Republican party. One more newspiece to infuriate gay republicans.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 13, 2012 2:22:19 PM


  4. Mariela Castro is Progressive on Gay issues. Her father and uncle are not, and Cuba is far from being a paradise for LGBT folk or anybody else.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | May 13, 2012 2:49:20 PM


  5. <----- has actually been to Cuba. I'm guessing y'all havent.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 13, 2012 2:57:18 PM


  6. I've been to Cuba, Little Kiwi. Just a few years ago, in fact.

    I 100% support ending the US travel embargo and I am in favor of immediate diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.

    With that said, Cuba is officially a very homophobic place. There were no gay bars as of 2007, not because there was no demand, but rather the government forbade them. I went to hidden gay parties that were out of the city center so as to avoid problems with the authorities.

    When hanging with other gays on the Malecon in Havana, one guy I was with told me to take his hand off his shoulders because the policemen walking past us were there to make sure nothing "too gay" was going on. (A friend of mine who went a couple of years before me told me he kissed a Cuban man in public and the Cuban was fined $20 - two months of salary at the time (my friend paid it)).

    My gay friends in Havana (several of whom I'm still in touch with) told me that the government is very repressive towards gays. They were no longer sent to "concentration camps" (as they termed them) where gay intellectuals were sent after the Revolution since they did not embody the masculine "barbudo" ethos of Castro et al. However, things for them were still very tough on an official level.

    I agree with Stuffed Animal. Mariela Castros is progressive on gay issues while her father and uncle are not. This is a dictatorship. Restrictions against gays could be removed by the government very easily if they wanted to.

    Posted by: Brad | May 13, 2012 3:10:03 PM


  7. know what other country is "officially a very homophobic place"?

    The United States of America. You still have explicit anti-gay discrimination written into law and policy in most States.

    now, that said, within the US there are millions of citizens and many political leaders who are indeed standing up, and marching against, the institutionalized-bigotry that still exists in most States.

    so rather than say "Cuba is bad" - let's try to be intellectually honest: here's a brave young vanguard standing up to family history, oppressive culture, and prejudice in a way that many in the US are, and in a way that many in the US AREN'T (*cough cough, GOPROUD* cough cough)

    in other words, give the lady some respect. she's doing, in Cuba, what many of you give excuses to not to here in America.

    werk.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 13, 2012 3:25:46 PM


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    Posted by: joanna | May 13, 2012 3:32:16 PM


  9. Thank you Little One! That's what I was thinking when I read this. A brave young lady marching through Havana in support of the gay community, despite the stances of politicians and leaders and her own family. It makes you wonder what's stopping all the gay republicans from doing the same thing. If a lady in Cuba, of all places, can put her name and safety on the line to stand up for what is right, then why can't gay people here in America do the same thing?

    Posted by: Jessica | May 13, 2012 3:32:58 PM


  10. LittleKiwi,

    First off, I never said that much of the US is not a homophobic place, so that's a straw man.

    And portraying "Cuba is good/US is bad" narrative is just as intellectually dishonest as saying "Cuba is bad."

    You say many in the US are not standing up for gay rights, and bring up GOProud as an example, which is a small group that doesn't represent anything close to a majority of gays at all. And besides this group in Havana, exactly how many in Cuba are supporting this "young vanguard"? According to the Huff Po, there were 400 people at this event. Even taking into consideration the differences in population, advocates for gay rights and those who participate in Pride events well outnumber Cuba's proportionally.

    That's not to denigrate them or deny them respect at all. In fact, I give more respect to those who publicly march in Havana because they are exposing themselves in a way that someone in NYC would not.

    I noted that Mariela Castro is very pro-gay, and that's great. However, again, the fact that there is no political opposition in Cuba (like we have in the US) means that if her uncle and/or father wanted police harassment of gays ended, official recognition of gay relationships, and an opening of gay centers in Cuba, it could be done tomorrow. Republicans may be stopping us here in the US, but nothing is stopping the Communist Party in Cuba from moving beyond talk to action.

    Posted by: Brad | May 13, 2012 3:42:30 PM


  11. I hear that, Brad, and I don't actually disagree.

    My comments aren't so much a critique of yours, as they are of the Gay Republicans who felt the need to log on here to day and complain about Cuba, rather than grow a pair and actually address the anti-gay bigotry within their chosen party.

    That's what irked me - a young woman standing up for LGBT people in Cuba, marching in solidarity. She's doing the work that Gay Republicans need to be doing - defying family, cultural tradition, and societal expectation. If nothing else, this should be inspiring anyone and everyone in a "free" nation.

    :)

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 13, 2012 3:46:03 PM


  12. I understand what you mean, Little Kiwi, and I also condemn gays who actively work against equality here in the US (or who are even quiet in the face of intolerance). But I take issue with your first comment here about "Cuba being more progressive than the Republican party."

    Mariela Castro is more progressive than the Republican party, but Cuba as a whole certainly is not.

    I don't know of any public polls taken there (I doubt they'd be allowed), so we don't know where the population stands on gay issues. However, I imagine the number is much greater than 400 (even in Havana) so the fact that so many have stayed away is telling.

    Castro, upon assuming power in 1959, enacted laws to dismantle racism in the political and economic spheres of the country (they still exist, unofficially, but not in the same way as 50+ years ago) despite popular culture that had/has racism deeply embedded in it. It was important to him, so the culture had to bend. Castro also embarked on an ambitious campaign of gender equality that though might not have achieved total parity, still allows women to divorce and get abortion. Church objections were muted because Castro felt gender equality was more important than Church nonsense.

    I've been hearing Fidel since at least the late 1990s lament gays' situation in Cuba. Yet he is full of hot air: unlike snapping his fingers to eliminate racist and sexist laws, he has done little to nothing for gays.

    I applaud the efforts of Mariela and company and I hope they come to fruition sooner rather than later. She is a hero. Yet despite her efforts, as of today (and I hope this changes), the Cuban government and the Republican Party see largely eye-to-eye on gay issues.

    Posted by: Brad | May 13, 2012 4:00:43 PM


  13. How come every time something about another country gets posted on Towleroad the comments section turn into a "the USA is better/worse than this country" pissing contest?

    Not everything's about America you know...

    Posted by: J.J. in the Navy | May 13, 2012 4:37:00 PM


  14. LOL- can the liberal media really fall for this extreme farce! The Castros are still in control of every aspect of Cuban life- a place with very few personal freedoms and if you dare to criticize the dictatorship they make you dissapear- oh yeah Cuba is the new gay paradise

    Posted by: jaragon | May 13, 2012 6:19:34 PM


  15. " However, again, the fact that there is no political opposition in Cuba (like we have in the US) means that if her uncle and/or father wanted police harassment of gays ended, official recognition of gay relationships, and an opening of gay centers in Cuba, it could be done tomorrow. "

    No, it couldn't.

    Running a government in any state - from a purely democratic one to the harshest of dictatorships - depends on consensus. Power always depends on consensus. Entrenched notions are usually impossible to overcome in the short-term, even when one has a monopoly of violence (which in of itself is a myth). Much more could be done by Raul Castro, and it would be nice if Fidel would return to the bully pulpit to speak on the topic. But the enemy goes beyond a set of elites - it's an entire culture that holds to traditional views of gendered roles and views open deviations as a threat. South Africa has taught us how worthless official recognition is without a corresponding culture shift.

    Posted by: Nat | May 13, 2012 6:20:05 PM


  16. "LOL- can the liberal media really fall for this extreme farce! The Castros are still in control of every aspect of Cuban life- a place with very few personal freedoms and if you dare to criticize the dictatorship they make you dissapear- oh yeah Cuba is the new gay paradise"

    I have never had trouble finding Cubans who criticize their government. There is generally a marked respect for the Castro family, but people are very free in expressing their frustration over the state of their country. They want all want a better life, and most seem to realize their current mode of government cannot provide it. That's why the controls have gradually been loosening over the past 15 years.

    Posted by: Nat | May 13, 2012 6:24:38 PM


  17. I was in Cuba too, and I tell you, Mariela Castro stands for gays rights, and march with gays in Havana, as long as they also bring big signs supporting Castro's government.

    This so called 'havana parade' is a fake:
    - they're not allowed to march alone... they can march as long as they support Fidel and Raul...
    - they are not allowed to ask for rights... they have to settle for whatever leftover Mariela wants to give them

    So please stop saying Mariela stands for gays right, she's only looking for publicity... gays right, as long as other human rights in Cuba are conditioned to support Communist party.

    If you don't believe this, try going to next march, and you'll see...

    Posted by: Tony | May 13, 2012 6:44:53 PM


  18. Please don't let Cuba fool anyone, these bastards are totalitarian scum!! Castro is a war criminal who should have been tried in the Hague a long time ago. The blood is still dripping from his hands. This new PR stunt will not suffice after all the murders and repression by this communist regime (including the oppression of homosexuals). Only when the Castros and their minions are brought to Justice will Cuba be free! Malditos!

    Posted by: Pedro | May 13, 2012 6:55:39 PM


  19. @Nat,

    "Running a government in any state - from a purely democratic one to the harshest of dictatorships - depends on consensus."

    As I noted, Castro pushed anti-racism reforms and women's rights reforms immediately after the Revolution, both of which (racism and sexism) were, and importantly, still are featured in Cuban society.

    Yet despite traditions, he told everyone to shut up and accept it. If gays were given rights in Cuba tomorrow, the population might still grumble, but they'd deal with it. Castro has pushed a lot of reforms in the country that have both been against popular sentiment and the traditional culture, and no one peeps a word to the contrary. The Castros could change things if they wanted to, but they don't. They prefer announcing to the world that they support gay rights (Fidel has been doing so since at least the 1990s) while making no movement on the ground.

    And Cubans are not free to express their frustrations over the country (unless it involves blaming los yanquis). I'll take the word of Cubans whom I met there who said so. Private complaining or airing frustration to friends is not the same actually lobbying for change. And I don't know how much respect the Castro family still has there. My cab driver who drove me to the airport there even told me he wanted him dead.

    Posted by: Brad | May 13, 2012 8:55:27 PM


  20. Jesus H. Christ...it's called PROPAGANDA. This b*tch has little in common with the average Cuban of any gender, sexual orientation or 'race'. Castro, Inc. know western 'progressives' eat this sh*t up. It's nothing more than an attempt to deflect attention from the oppressive criminal 50 plus year Castro, Inc. totalitarian regime.

    Posted by: Ratbastard | May 13, 2012 9:49:56 PM


  21. Interesting.

    Posted by: nothierthanthou | May 13, 2012 10:55:52 PM


  22. There was a documentary on the Cuban Revolution on the History Channel yesterday. I've heard so many bad things about 'Fidel Castro these last 5 decades that I forgot why the Cubans living in poverty got rid of Batista and the American pigs who backed him. Yesterday I was reminded.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | May 14, 2012 10:55:22 AM


  23. She is just another instrument of the criminal system that her father and uncle dictated to the poor people of cuba. Thier hands are full of blood of the 1000s of cubans killed by the castros regimen in all the wars , and killed in their own country. I ask to stop the castro's monarchy , stop the Communism in cuba. Please give real freedom to the cuban people....their have suffered enough already. No another castro please god help the cubans......

    Posted by: Niel watson | Jul 15, 2012 1:34:19 PM


  24. She is just another instrument of the criminal system that her father and uncle dictated to the poor people of cuba. Thier hands are full of blood of the 1000s of cubans killed by the castros regimen in all the wars , and killed in their own country. I ask to stop the castro's monarchy , stop the Communism in cuba. Please give real freedom to the cuban people....their have suffered enough already. No another castro please god help the cubans......

    Posted by: Niel watson | Jul 15, 2012 1:34:22 PM


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