Protests mark decade of LGBT activism in Cuba | News | DW | 14.05.2017
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Cuba

Protests mark decade of LGBT activism in Cuba

Calling for same-sex marriage, Cubans have chanted "revolution yes, homophobia no" in the streets of Havana. Until the early 1980s, gays and lesbians were routinely rounded up and forced to work in labor camps.

Hundreds of Cuban nationals gathered in the streets of central Havana on Saturday to protest homophobia and demand the introduction of same-sex marriage.

Waving the Cuban flag and rainbow banners, protesters chanted "revolution yes, homophobia no" as they marched down the seaside promenade of Malecon.

Mariela Castro, LGBT activist and daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, joined the protesters, saying that a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage has been under discussion for years and could be introduced at the next Communist Party congress.

Mariela Castro, who heads the National Center for Sexual Education, said the government needed to do more for the LGBT community, given its history of persecution.

From the 1959 revolution that marked the country's seismic transformation to a communist nation through to the early 1980s, gays and lesbians were considered deviants, routinely rounded up and forced to work in labor camps.

Mariela Castro, one of Cuba's most visible LGBT activists, joined the protesters to call for more rights Foto: Guillermo Nova/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk

Mariela Castro, one of Cuba's most visible LGBT activists, joined the protesters to call for more rights

'Most important thing'

The demonstration also marked the 10th anniversary of the Cuban Conference against Homophobia and Transphobia, which has pushed the government to officially recognize the LGBT community and secure its rights.

Francisco Rodriguez, LGBT activist and journalist at the state-owned newspaper Trabajadores, said while several issues still needed to be addressed, progress had been made over the past decade.

"Perhaps the most important thing that has been achieved in these 10 years is to make the public aware of the issue, and also to ensure that it is no longer politically correct in Cuba to be homophobic or transphobic," Rodriguez said.

In 2010, former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who led the country's revolution, described the repression of the LGBT community under his watch as a "great injustice."

ls/cmk (EFE, dpa)

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