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Mariela Castro plans to push for same-sex marriage in Cuba

For years, Mariela Castro has been on the front lines of promoting LGBTI rights on the island

Mariela Castro plans to push for same-sex marriage in Cuba
Mariela Castro in 2010, fighting for LGBTI rights in Cuba

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s former president Raúl Castro, announced Friday, 4 May that her organization will submit proposals to the country’s National Assembly to extend marriage and other rights to LGBTI Cubans.

What happened?

The news was broken by Hatzel Vela, a Havana-based journalist for South Florida television station WPLG. Vela reported Castro, who serves as director of National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX), made the comments during a press conference.

On Cuba, a Miami-based magazine covering the island, reported CENESEX’s plan to propose these amendments in July, when the National Assembly meets again. Though not providing any specific details, Castro said these proposals would alter the country’s constitution as well as the family and penal codes.

‘When it is the constitutional change we can present all these proposals … the main idea is not to delay them in new law and incorporate them in those that already exist so that it is more expeditious,’ said Castro, who is a member of the National Assembly herself.

Castro, who spoke to reporters ahead of the press conference, also announced the city of Pinar del Río will commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this year. International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia takes place on 17 May.

Cuba’s LGBTI history

Following the 1959 Cuban revolution which brought Fidel Castro to power, 25,000 gay men deemed unfit for military service were sent to labor camps.

In 1979, Cuba repealed its sodomy law. In 2010, Fidel Castro apologized for forcing gay men into work camps.

Until 1993, the Cuban government would quarantine people with HIV and AIDS in a state-run sanitaria.

Since 2008, Cuba has offered free sex reassignment surgeries through the government’s healthcare system. However, last year Mariela Castro noted that fewer than 40 people have been able to receive them.

In 2013, Mariela Castro voted against adding sexual orientation to Cuba’s labor law as it didn’t also include gender identity.

Mariela Castro has been a vocal advocate of protecting LGBTI kids from bullying in school.

Raúl Castro is reportedly supportive of his daughter’s pro-LGBTI efforts.

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