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Cuba Implements Protections For Workers Based On Orientation

Cuban Parliament

The Cuban parliament has just passed an historic change to the island's labor codes that put them above most states here in the U.S. They have expanded the codes with language that explicitly protects gays and lesbians and bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and received support from Christian and intellectual parliamentary leaders.

However, for two steps forward there's one step back. The original draft of the changes included employment protections for political opinion but were removed in subsequent revisions. Dissidents and opponents of the Cuban government have latched on to the revision, making sure that it's known that while this is a step forward, it is also possibly a diversionary tactic to gloss over the removal of protections for political dissent.


Diana Nyad Talks to CNN's AC360 About Her Triumphant Cuba to Florida Swim: VIDEO

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As Towleroad reported yesterday, out lesbian Diana Nyad completed an historic, epic swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West without the aid of a shark cage. An exhausted Nyad spoke with Sanjay Gupta following her swim about what brought her to it, and what got her through it.

"Push Cuba back, and push Florida toward you."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Diana Nyad Talks to CNN's AC360 About Her Triumphant Cuba to Florida Swim: VIDEO" »


Mariela Castro Leads March Against Homophobia in Cuba: VIDEO

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Mariela Castro led hundreds of people through the streets of Havana in a march against homophobia on Saturday, al Jazeera reports:

People danced La Rampa through the crowded city, chanting "Homophobia no! Socialism yes!" as they made their way through Havana for more than an hour. Cuba has previously persecuted homosexuals, particularly during the 1960s when being gay was outlawed and homosexuals were interned in work camps.

Mariela Castro said she is optimistic that the communist nation will eventually legalise gay marriage.

"What is most complicated is the time it takes to overcome prejudices," she said.

"We must change consciousness."

Watch a BBC report on the march and the situation for gays in Cuba, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mariela Castro Leads March Against Homophobia in Cuba: VIDEO" »


Mariela Castro Visits Liberty Bell in Philadelphia: VIDEO

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Cuban gay rights activist and daughter of President Raul Castro is in Philadelphia to pick up an award from Philadelphia's Equality Forum after a brief tussle with the State Dept. over a visa approval, which she was granted last week.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

The AP reports:

Mariela Castro spoke briefly to reporters during her sightseeing tour. Asked about the health of her uncle and father, Castro replied: "They're wonderful, and I learn a lot from their example."

Commenting on the gay rights movement in the U.S., she said, "In this election especially, they showed that they form a very important vote in American society."

A married mother of three, Castro leads Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, which is part of the island nation's public health ministry. She is the country's most prominent gay rights activist, having trained police on relations with the LGBT community and lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba's parliament in February.

Continue reading "Mariela Castro Visits Liberty Bell in Philadelphia: VIDEO" »


State Department Reconsiders, Approves Mariela Castro for Visa to Pick Up Gay Rights Award

Last week I reported that Mariela Castro, the Cuban gay rights activist and daughter of President Raul Castro was being denied a visa to travel to Philadelphia's Equality Forum to pick up an award.

CastroThey have reconsidered, CNN reports:

Initially not expected to receive a visa, the official said the case was "looked at again" and "the restriction on her visa has been lifted, which will allow her to travel" to the event on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues...Contacted by CNN on Monday, the organizers said they had not received official confirmation that Mariela Castro would attend. She is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion on May 4 and to receive an award from the Equality Forum as an "International Ally for LGBT Equality."


State Department Denies Mariela Castro Visa to Pick Up Gay Rights Award in Philadelphia

Mariela Castro, the Cuban gay rights activist and daughter of President Raul Castro, is being honored at Philadelphia's Equality Forum but the State Department has denied her a visa to pick up the award, the AP reports:

CastroState Department spokesman Noel Clay said he could not comment on the case because visa records are confidential.

Mariela Castro, the niece of retired leader Fidel Castro, is director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education. As that country's most prominent gay rights activist, she has instituted awareness campaigns, trained police on relations with the LGBT community and has lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions.

Guillermo Suarez, spokesman for Cuba's United Nations Mission, confirmed that Mariela Castro was in New York on Thursday attending meetings related to the U.N. population conference in Cairo in 1994. She is one of the experts designated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to work on the 20-year follow-up to the action plan adopted in Egypt, Suarez said. "That's why she asked for the visa and it's the reason for her presence in New York," he said.

Cuban diplomats are barred from traveling more than 25 miles from Manhattan.

The Equality Forum released a statement, which read in part:

“Over the past 11 years, Equality Forum has invited leaders of the featured nation to attend. For those who needed a visa, all past visas have been approved,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum.  “It is shocking that our State Department would deny Ms. Castro travel to a civil rights summit – especially one held in the birthplace of our democracy that enshrines freedoms of speech and assembly.”

“Mariela Castro runs the leading Cuban LGBT organization that offers support and services to LGBT youth and seniors, provides HIV and STD education and prevention, and combats homophobia,” said Lazin. “These are shared values that deserve the right to be heard regardless of political systems.”


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