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Cuban president’s daughter casts first ‘no’ vote since the Revolution over trans and HIV exclusion

Cuban president’s daughter casts first ‘no’ vote since the Revolution over trans and HIV exclusion

Outspoken Cuban LGBTI rights advocate Mariela Castro has cast a historic ‘no’ vote in Cuba’s National Assembly which experts believe is the first time a dissenting vote has been recorded in the chamber since the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

Mariela, who is the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and the niece of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, cast the vote in December of last year in protest at a new labor code that protects sexual minorities but not transgender people or people with HIV from workplace discrimination.

News of the historic ‘no’ vote only broke this year when it was written about on a Spanish language blog and it has only reached English language media this week.

‘I really wanted to vote for it, because I think the law is advanced and reflects major elements that reflect the feelings of our people, especially in the way we consulted the people,’ Mariela told the Paquito el de CUBA blog.

‘But I can not be part of passing a law which contradicts the fundamental principles of law that I am defending.

‘I could not vote in favor without the certainty that the labor rights of people with different gender identity would be explicitly recognized.’

Mariela also wanted the employment rights of people with HIV to be included in the bill but that did not occur.

Cuba experts told a range of media that they believed this was the first time a dissenting vote had been cast in the Cuban Parliament but disagreed over whether it signaled that there was now room for legitimate dissent within the Cuban Government or something only Mariela could get away with because of her relationship with her father.

‘I would say that this is more a sign of what Mariela can get away with than a sign of what your everyday parliamentarian can get away with,’ Baruch College Latin America studies professor Ted Henken told The Guardian.

The twice married sexologist has long been a champion for LGBTI rights in Cuba and is the head of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX).