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Mariela Castro Hub



04/19/2007


Not All Gay Activists Cheering Mariela Castro's U.S. Visit

MarielaCastroMariela Castro, daughter of current Cuban president Raul Castro and niece of infamous leader Fidel, traveled to the United States this week to fight for LGBT rights, a cause she has championed for years in her home country.

"If we don't change our patriarchal and homophobic culture...we cannot advance as a new society, and that's what we want, the power of emancipation through socialism," Ms. Castro told medical professionals at a lecture in San Francisco yesterday. "We will establish relationships on the basis of social justice and social equality...It seems like a Utopia, but we can change it."

While many people are cheering Castro's advocacy, the Miami Herald reports that many LGBT Cubans are crying foul.

"For Mariela Castro, or anybody else under the Castro dictatorship, to say they are representing the rights of anyone is an insult to the hundreds of thousands who have either been killed, jailed or assassinated by their own hands, or the nearly 100,000 people who’ve jumped into the ocean looking for freedom who haven’t made it here," Herb Sosa, executive director of the Hispanic gay rights group Unity Coalition, told the paper.

Miami resident Pedro S. Romanach also voiced opposition, saying that despite Castro's efforts, there are still fundamental rights that Cubans, gay and straight alike, lack: She may be pro-gay marriage, but the very elementary rights Cubans don’t have — freedom of the press, freedom of assembly — gay people don’t have those rights in Cuba. Neither do straights."

He went on, "She doesn’t represent anybody but herself. The real heroes in Cuba are the gay people who are pro-gay and pro-freedom and the anti-communists who aren’t getting any publicity.”


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.


Independent Groups Hold Gay Pride 'Stroll' in Havana

A Gay Pride "stroll" organized by groups independent of Cuba's "pro-government LGBT groups controlled by Raúl Castro’s daughter Mariela" took place in Havana yesterday:

Havana Waving rainbow colored flags, dozens of LGBT activists and supporters joined what was described as Cuba’s first gay street demonstration not sponsored by the government in recent memory. The event drew a strong police presence but went off without incident.

Leannes Imbert, whose Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Observatory organized the event, had said that she was inviting everyone, even Mariela Castro, to the stroll — not a protest or a march because those might have required police permits.

But the event was clearly designed to highlight differences with the “official” LGBT groups backed by the first daughter, who has argued that Gay Pride parades are “protests” not needed in Cuba because the country’s laws protect gay rights.

Cubans have marched for gay rights before, but Mariela Castro was directly involved.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez writes about yesterday's event here.

Video of the march, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Independent Groups Hold Gay Pride 'Stroll' in Havana" »


Cubans March For Gay Rights In Havana

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The march took place as part of this weekend's International Day Against Homophobia. Hundreds of people took part in what is reported to be a violent-free parade, unlike what happened in Belarus earlier today.

The AP reports:

Hundreds of gay and lesbian activists, some dressed in drag and others sporting multicolored flags representing sexual diversity, marched and danced through the streets of Havana on Saturday along with the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro as part of a celebration aimed at eliminating homophobia around the world.

Some of the marchers played drums and others walked on stilts as they made their way down a wide avenue in the capital's hip Vedado neighborhood, where they have held a series of debates and workshops ahead of the May 17 celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia.

Said President Castro's daughter and longtime-time LGBT rights advocate Mariela Castro, who is in the center of the photo above: "We have made progress, but we need to make more progress."

Related, The Havana Times has published an interview with a young Cuban lesbian about living as an openly gay person in that country. When asked if gay men "suffer more police persecution than gay women," she responded:

"We all are socially pressured, and not only through police harassment but also from social rejection,  gestures or expressions, and when we don’t receive proper treatment in some place because someone is a “too mannish” or “too loose,” and consequently they’re discriminated against.  I don’t know if lesbians or if gays are the more rejected.  I think lesbians are harassed more; men tend to give looser reins to their ghoulish instincts without realizing that it doesn’t please us.  On the other hand, they humiliate us by subjecting us to their obscenities, often in public."


Mariela Castro Leads Gay Rights Conga Line in Havana

Castro

Mariela Castro, gay rights activist and daughter of President Raul Castro, led a gay rights street dance in Havana on Saturday:

"Participants formed a carnival-style conga line around two city blocks to the beat of drums, accompanied by costumed stilt-walkers. Events also included educational panels and presentations for books, magazines and CDs about gay rights and sexual diversity. 'We're calling on the Cuban people to participate ... so that the revolution can be deeper and include all the needs of the human being,' said Mariela Castro..."

Watch some brief video of the event, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mariela Castro Leads Gay Rights Conga Line in Havana " »


Mariela Castro on Same-Sex Marriage, HIV/AIDS, Gay Rights in Cuba

Mariela

Russia Today has posted an informative and comprehensive interview with Mariela Castro, daughter of the nation's President Raul, and Director of the National Center for Sex Education in Cuba.

CubaThe interview covers the possibility of same-sex unions in a predominantly Catholic, Communist state, overcoming stigmas and legislative barriers, when a bill might be passed legalizing same-sex unions in Cuba, the country's history of homophobia, HIV/AIDS, and the support she receives from Raul Castro of her work on sexual education.

Said Castro on the latter topic: "Yes, he's supportive of my work, thanks to the past influence of my mother, on sexual education, and mine. Of course, from time to time we have discussions meant to convince him of the need for quicker solutions. He's also influenced by other people that disagree with my work, and it's those people who create obstacles. But I believe that dialogue is fundamental to progress, so whenever I have a chance to sit down and talk with my father to convince him, I do so."

Watch the entire interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mariela Castro on Same-Sex Marriage, HIV/AIDS, Gay Rights in Cuba" »


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