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Cuba attempts to amend decades of homophobia by changing the Constitution

The National Assembly debated this Sunday the reform to redefine marriage as the "union between two people"

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Cuba attempts to amend decades of homophobia by changing the Constitution

"With this proposed constitutional regulation, Cuba ranks among leading countries, recognizing and guaranteeing human rights," said Congresswoman Mariela Castro, daughter of former president Raúl Castro and one of main promoters of Recognition of rights of LGTBI community on island as director of National Sex Education Center. The parliamentarian explained that reform of article would lay groundwork for adoption of same-sex marriage in specific legislation and even for gay or lesbian couples. "All families must be guaranteed by State rights and ways to achieve se ends," he concluded.

Deputy Miguel Barnet, president of Cuban Writers and Artists Union, expressed his "immense pride" at prospect of this advance and stated: "We are inaugurating a new era. This is a dialectical and modern constitution. And if we have to break tradition, it breaks. In socialism re is no discrimination between human beings. I am in favour of article 68 [on marriage] of new constitution. Gentlemen, love doesn't have sex. " Parliamentarian Yolanda Ferrer defended sexual diversity as "a right and not a stigma", he called to leave behind "centuries of arrears" — in 1960s, gays were interned in forced labor camps — and he added: "How many people do we know are Homosexual or bisexual and are dignified people who are each day with us and often live toger, but we have denied right to be a family. "

The possibility that Cuba will approve homosexual marriage has been welcomed by LGBTI community on island, although in social media comments some activists have underlined need for progress in this aspect of rights be accompanied by more political and association freedoms.

Roiniel Torres and Dariel Hernández walk along Malecon in Havana. Yander Zamora

The draft constitutional reform does not envisage any change in political system, it keeps Communist Party as only legal and, although it eliminates reference to communism as an ideal model, it imposes "irrevocability of socialism". The text was unanimously approved by 605 deputies and, with respect to Constitution in force – of 1976 and written with mould of Socialist bloc-, contains substantial innovations such as recognition of private property and Institution of a prime minister. The project will be submitted to popular consultation between August 13 and November 15 and must finally be approved in a referendum on a date yet to be announced.

On phone from Havana, activist LGBTI Isbel Torres, aged 43, said on Sunday that he was "very happy" about constitutional change over marriage and that it was not expected. "I thought most backward forces within government were going to have power to avoid it, but fortunately it wasn't." Torres says that it is an essential step and adds that re is "a lot of work to do". "Cuba is still a fairly homophobic country, more in provinces than in capital, yes; But homophobia abounds and above all transphobia and at institutional level police and army are places where homophobia is expressed in a terrible way. In schools, too, homophobic bullying is very common and re is no prevention. "

One of blackest pages of castroism was existence of military units of production aid between 1965 and 1968, Fields of forced labor for "re-education" of all those that regime of Fidel Castro considered lost with respect to Revolutionary morality. The dark UMAP was sent to criminals, political dissidents, religious and homosexuals, among ors. It is estimated that around 30,000 Cubans were detained and specifically about 800 gays.

A torture past

The historian Abel Sierra Madero, a scholar of UMAP, explains to country that in se centres prisoners were tortured and criticized that Cuban government has never apologized for it and much less compensated victims. "They've always tried to make it look that UMAP were a mistake, and Fidel Castro took off responsibilities by saying that he was too busy ruling and did not know what was going on re. But y were no isolated error. The UMAP were a systemic phenomenon of revolution. "

Psychologist Liliana Morenza, along with two gays held in 1967 in Camagüey. Archive of ABEL SIERRA MADERO

Emilio Izquierdo, director of Association UMAP Miami, which denounces what happened in fields of forced labor, considers that y assumed "a crime against humanity that should be judged as such". Left, of 70 years, was two years imprisoned in a UMAP of province of Camagüey by political dissident and recalls special cruelty with which homosexual prisoners were treated: "They were separating m from rest and made teams of work composed only by gays , dividing into groups or than assets and liabilities, and submitting to all kinds of insults, beatings and confinement in dungeons. "

A Havana bar prohibits taking a picture of a gay couple Brian pannelles and Arian Abreu.

P. DE LLANO, Miami

Homophobia is still very much alive in Cuba. A recent case of discrimination is that of Brian Nelles and Arian Abreu, a couple that on July 8 was expelled from a fashionable bar in downtown Havana, bar EFE, for taking a picture kissing. In magazine sneezing, a medium that is made in island despite prohibition of Independent press, Nelles has explained that an employee of local told him that bar did not want "to expose that image". He asked him what image he was referring to. "The bar is not interested in gay people. We do not want to earn that fame, "was answer according to testimony of Nelles. After midnight Abreu, Nelles and her sister were expelled from premises. According to young man, a security clerk grabbed him by arm and took him to door. "I told him I'd spent a lot of money and I wasn't going airme without taking picture. There he pulled me out and closed door without more, "said Nelles to Cuban magazine, and asked company to apologize to m:" It's a private business, but we don't deserve to be treated like that. " In statements to sneezing, bar sources argued that y do not have policy of discriminating against sexual orientation: "We are not against anything. This is an open place. " On his Facebook page, bar posted a message that said "he will always raise flag against homophobia." This case has had a repercussion in Cuba and many voices have risen to denounce it. Even National Sex Education Center, directed by Mariela Castro, daughter of Raúl Castro, issued a statement stating that "is aware of what happened recently in capital Bar Efe and, consequently, is working to know details of facts , assist in process people who were affected and inform competent authorities. " Two days after what happened to this couple, an extraordinary number of Official Gazette issued a decree in which one of points y establish is that any private business that discriminate by gender or sexual orientation will be fined with two thousand Cuban pesos [u US 65 euros] and closed. The Cuban Penal code contemplates a penalty of up to two years ' imprisonment to whom discriminate anor person. Share in Facebook share on Twitter OtrosCerrarCompartir at LinkedinCompartir on GooglePlusCompartir on Pinterest

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