Main | Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Progress In Cuba

Things are continuing to get better for Cuba's gays.
Cuba's gay community celebrated unprecedented openness - and high-ranking political alliances - with a government-backed campaign against homophobia on the weekend. 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.

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