LGBT – It seems as if Cuba has begun to extend an olive branch to the LGBT community. Gay pride events take place annually and in 2007 the country began allowing state-funded sexual reassignment surgeries. In 2010 Fidel apologized to his gay comrades for discrimination and what one can assume was state-sponsored harassment. Now Mariela Castro, the niece of Fidel Castro and daughter of President Raul Castro, stated via the island nation’s website, Cubadebate.cu, that Cuban lawmakers are considering the legalization of same-sex civil unions in 2012.
Cuba, once a cosmopolitan destination for Americans prior to Castro’s takeover in 1959, was harsh against gay men, women, and transgendered people until 1970 when party leaders lifted the ban on homosexuality (some thirty years before the United States lifted the ban on sodomy).
More recently, in August of 2011, a wedding took place between Cuban gay rights activist Ignacio Estrada and his transgender bride Wendy Iriepa. The wedding was lauded by Yoani Sanchez, who has become something of a celebrity via her dissident views which she posts through a blog and a Twitter account and she seems hopeful about the future of LGBT unions in her nation. At the time she said it was not gay marriage per se, but the closest that Cuba had come at the time.
The actions of Castro – and Cuba – are however met with criticism by émigrés and their descendants in the United States.
“Anything that government does with regard to being more open requires a second look at what the story behind it is…basically, if they allow it, it isn’t because they are suddenly so nice and gay friendly,” said Jorge Martin of Oakland Park, Florida, whose parents left Cuba in the 1960s.
“It’s likely only because they have something to gain – either a propaganda victory for his daughter or to gain brownie points in the eyes of the world, especially since they won’t allow gay marriage here in the States on a Federal level. While gay marriage and gay civil rights are a good thing, just where it comes from is so rotten to the core I could never trust it,” he added.