Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gay Pride in Cuba

Cuban Government Backs Calls to Combat Homophobia

By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer
Associated Press
May 17, 2008

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/05/17/international/i140951D78.DTL

HAVANA

Cuba's gay community celebrated unprecedented openness
- and high-ranking political alliances - with a
government-backed campaign against homophobia on
Saturday.

The meeting at a convention center in Havana's Vedado
district may have been the largest gathering of openly
gay activists ever on the communist-run island.
President Raul Castro's daughter Mariela, who has
promoted the rights of sexual minorities, presided.

"This is a very important moment for us, the men and
women of Cuba, because for the first time we can gather
in this way and speak profoundly and with scientific
basis about these topics," said Castro, director of
Cuba's Center for Sexual Education.

Mariela Castro joined government leaders and hundreds
of activists at the one-day conference for the
International Day Against Homophobia that featured
shows, lectures, panel discussions and book
presentations. A station also offered blood-tests for
sexually transmitted diseases.

Cuban state television gave prime-time play Friday to
the U.S. film "Brokeback Mountain," which tells the
story of two cowboys who conceal their homosexual
affair.

Prejudice against homosexuals remains deeply rooted in
Cuban society, but the government has steadily moved
away from the Puritanism of the 1960s and 1970s, when
homosexuals hid their sexuality for fear of being
ridiculed, fired from work or even imprisoned.

Now Cuba's parliament is studying proposals to legalize
same-sex unions and give gay couples the benefits that
people in traditional marriages enjoy.

Parliament head Ricardo Alarcon said the government
needs to do more to promote gay rights, but said many
Cubans still need to be convinced.

Things "are advancing, but must continue advancing, and
I think we should do that in a coherent, appropriate
and precise way because these are topics that have been
taboo and continue to be for many," Alarcon told
reporters.

Some at the conference spoke of streaming out into the
streets for a spontaneous gay-pride parade, but others
urged caution.

The gay rights movement should be careful not to
"flood" Cuban society with a message that many are not
ready to hear, physician and gay activist Alberto Roque
cautioned.

And Mariela Castro said gay activists should opt for
more subtle ways to chip away at deep-seated homophobic
attitudes.

Defending equal rights for Cubans, of all sexual
orientations, is a key principal of the Cuban
revolution led by her uncle Fidel Castro, who overthrew
dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, she said.

"The freedom of sexual choice and gender identity (are)
exercises in equality and social justice," she said.

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Portside aims to provide material of interest
to people on the left that will help them to
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1 comment:

Walter Lippmann said...

Hundreds more articles on LGBT life in Cuba may be found at
http://www.walterlippmann.com/lgbt-cuba.html