Prior to IDAHO, the day against homophobia, on May 17th a week full of cultural festivals, debates, parties, sport events and gay prides marches (conga’s) is organized by the Cuban LGBTI-movement Cenesex.
Cuba, still being a very poor socialist state with limited political freedoms, is slowly opening up for LGBTI-people. Like in many Latin American countries machismo is feeding homophobia in public space, at schools and the workingspace. But things are changing for the good. Anti-discrimination laws and same-sex partner-legislation are openly debated and it is expected that in the next few years they will transform into laws.
Leading in the LGBTI-movement is Mariela Castro-Espin, daughter of president Raoul Castro. Being straight herself and with her good relations within the government the LGBTI-movement has a strong advocate on LGBTI-rights. It is paying off. LGBTI-people are visible on the streets. In Havana hundreds and hundreds of young gay-men gather together in the evening to hang out. Gaybars and clubs are established in most big cities in Cuba.
During the prideweek every day a gay pride event (conga) took place in one of the cities in Cuba. Hundreds, and in some cases even thousands, of LGBTI-people and straight allies marched the streets in Havana, Santa Clara, Bayamo and other cities. Media-coverage brought the now visible LGBTI-community into the livingrooms of the Cubans.
It is important to stay critical regarding the political and general human rights situation in Cuba. At the same time, Cuba is becoming showcase to other Latin American countries what can be done to fight homophobia. And although the tights between Cuba and Russia have loosened a lot in the last decade, maybe the pro-LGBTI developments in Cuba can set an example for Russia and it’s anti-gay laws as well.
Wilfred Labiosa organized the trip to Cuba, in which also American LGBTI-activists participated. Wilfred has been for long a liaison between Cuban’s LGBTI-movement and InterPride. If you are interested to visit Cuba during a LGBTI-trip, sent an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.