The daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro on Wednesday said there is a
"legislative package" that would extend rights to LGBT Cubans.
Diario de Cuba, an independent website that is blocked in Cuba, reported
Mariela Castro, who is director of the country's National Center for
Sexual Education, did not provide specific details when she spoke to
reporters at her organization's headquarters in Havana's Vedado
neighborhood. Mariela Castro said the Cuban National Assembly could
consider the package once they approve proposed constitutional reforms,
which Diario de Cuba said could take place in 2018.
"We have a lot of aspirations," she said, according to Diario de Cuba.
"Sometimes we don't have enough working groups or sufficient
understanding of the effect that certain changes can have."
"These proposals are studied and analyzed in order not to do things
superficially," added Mariela Castro.
Diario de Cuba reported Mariela Castro made the comments after she
signed an agreement with the U.N. Population Fund and the Dutch
government to implement the second phrase of a project that is designed
to promote "sexual education, sexual health and human rights" on the
Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, on
Wednesday reported on the agreement that Mariela Castro signed. It's
coverage did not mention the legislative package about which she spoke.
IDAHOT events to take place in Cuba in May
Mariela Castro's comments come less than two months before her
organization, which is known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX, will hold a
series of events in Havana and the city of Santa Clara that will
commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Cuban lawmakers in 2013 approved an amendment to the country's labor law
that banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Mariela Castro, who is a member of the Cuban National Assembly, voted
against the proposal because it did not include gender identity.
Cuba's national health care system has offered free sex-reassignment
surgeries since 2008. Independent LGBT rights advocates and critics of
the Cuban government maintain only a few dozen people have been able to
undergo the procedure.
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who died last November, in 2010
apologized for sending thousands of gay men and others deemed unfit for
military service in the years after the 1959 Cuban revolution to labor
camps known as Military Units to Aid Production. The Cuban government
also forcibly quarantined people with HIV/AIDS in state-run sanitaria
The Cuban constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Mariela Castro, who is former Cuban President Fidel Castro's niece, in
recent years has publicly spoken in support of marriage rights for
She noted hate crimes remain a problem in countries in which gays and
lesbians can legally marry in remarks that she made earlier this month
at a film festival in the Mexican city of Guadalajara. Mariela Castro,
who is a member of the Cuban National Assembly, also said the country
does not "like to copy anyone" as she discussed why the country has yet
to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
LGBT rights advocates who work independently of Mariela Castro and
CENESEX in 2015 launched a campaign that urged Cubans to sign a petition
in support of the issue. They hoped it would spur lawmakers to publicly
debate the issue.
The activists have criticized Mariela Castro for not publicly supporting
their campaign that appears to have stalled. They have also told the
Washington Blade that Cuban authorities routinely harass and even detain
them for publicly criticizing Mariela Castro and her father's government.
The Blade has reached out to several Cuban LGBT rights advocates — those
who support Mariela Castro and work independently of her and CENESEX —
for reaction to her latest comments.
Source: Mariela Castro promotes pro-LGBT 'legislative package' in Cuba -