Cuba canceled its 12th annual march against homophobia and transphobia on Monday (6 May).
The state-run National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX) said in a Facebook post ‘new tensions in the international and regional context’ forced the cancellation.
Mariela Castro, the daughter of Communist Party leader Raul Castro and one of Cuba’s most vocal proponents for LGBTI rights, runs the center.
Other LGBTI events to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) will go ahead, according to the BBC.
Late last year, the Caribbean nation backed down on marriage equality after pressure from religious groups.
Activist Norge Espinosa Mendoza labeled this week’s cancellation ‘a new step backwards’.
‘Not allowing [the parade] is a signal that we are not welcome’ he wrote on Facebook.
‘The enemies of a more diverse and progressive Cuba will be happier now’.
‘March for our rights’
Activists have organized an alternative march for Saturday when the conga was scheduled to take place.
Event creator Yadiel Cepero wrote ‘Let us march for our rights’.
British LGBTI campaigner Peter Tatchell labeled the cancellation ‘very suspicious’.
According to Reuters, activists suspect the government banned the event because it did not want to risk a public forum for criticism amid rising tensions with the Trump administration in the US.
Activists consider Cuba a leader in LGBTI rights in Latin America.
A handful of countries in the Carribean still criminalize gay sex.
Cuba, meanwhile, offers rights such as free gender-affirmative surgery.
But, in December last year, Cuban lawmakers passed a draft of a new constitution after removing an equal marriage clause.
However, the amendment was removed from the draft following protests by conservative and religious groups.