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. InterPride human rights committee member Frank van Dalen spent the week in Cuba.
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.
Special attention is paid to transgenders in the community and modern family-structures. It is well understood that a LGBTI-friendly state where people can build families with the ones they truly love, is using its peoples capacities and contributions to society better then those who don’t.
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. The LGBTI-night live with cultural activities filling up theaters with thousands of people for dragshows and other performances can be considered to be vibrant.
During the week 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”, van Dalen says. “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.