A Backward Island Prepares to Receive a Homophobic Church

Isbel Diaz Torres

Jimmy Roque and Isbel Diaz in the Lavapies neighborhood of Madrid.

HAVANA TIMES – A few months before Pope Francis’ visits Cuba, the island still presents his Holiness with a nation where homosexuals are still unable to enjoy the rights emanating from an institution such as marriage.

This past 26th of June, the US Supreme Court affirmed the legality of same-sex marriages and joined the twenty different countries on five continents that officially acknowledge this agreement between two consenting adults.

The decision has prompted a joyful response in the media and discontent among some Catholic elites around the world, very close in their opinions to the government elites in Cuba, who refuse to update their morals while updating their economic agendas.

Rumors about a supposed Family Code that acknowledges same sex relationships (a document no activist I know has ever actually read) continues to be presented as a triumph of the LGBT community on the island.

However, at the beginning of the year, in response to a petition made by activist Jimmy Roque Martinez, the Cuban parliament declared that “The National Assembly has not received any Family Code bill to date.”

In fact, a new Constitution is currently being cooked up behind the backs of the Cuban people.

If the new charter of rights and freedoms does not change its definition of marriage now (the union between a man and a woman), it will be next to impossible to change it latter.

As we can see, Cuba resembles those 14 states in the southern and mid-western United States (Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Dakota and Tennessee) in its conservative and even backward stances on social issues (such as racism) more than it does the sister nations of Argentina or Mexico.

We know the Catholic Church is opposed to same-sex marriage and this isn’t likely to change under the reign of Pope Francis, who I imagine is desperately looking for allies around the world, while “gay fever” seems to be spreading on Facebook, Twitter, Google and even the White House. Cuba will doubtless offer him good news.

In January, the Catholic leader said in the Philippines: “The family is being threatened by the growing efforts of some to define the institution of marriage.” What of those who threaten our families?

Will Cuba’s LGBT activists be able to peacefully intervene in the Pope’s visit to the island? Will we be permitted to organize and stage a peaceful demonstration? Will State Security agents come once again to arbitrarily detain citizens and guarantee an incident-free wedding between the State and Catholic Church?

Can anyone think of anything we can do to tell the world that Cuba has not yet guaranteed these rights for non-heterosexuals, that the State organizes homophobic surveys, that there are still people who still lose their homes when their partner of the same sex passes away, that our children are offered a homophobic education, that new private businesses, such as the KingBar, discriminate on the basis of a “right to admission”?

No marriage offers emancipation or contains all the rights we would want. But, while we work for a truly just society, our friends, our families and our children have the right to a minimum of security.

I congratulate the LGBT community in the United States for its success. Hopefully, this will not make them complacent and blind them to others who suffer stigmatization (immigrants, African Americans, women, vegetarians, the poor, the workers…).

Working together is vital.

Now, will we gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers of Cuba do something for ourselves? Will we raise our voices?


Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

3 thoughts on “A Backward Island Prepares to Receive a Homophobic Church

  • The Pope: The head of a church that specializes in pedophilia -and mainly with young boys -who runs around wearing a dress .
    Under church doctrine the only thing worse than AIDS is wearing the condom that will prevent the spread of HIV.
    The Catholics believe that it was an omniscient and omnipotent God who created humanity some 100,000 years ago -low estimate based on DNA tracing-and then waited NINETY EIGHT THOUSAND YEARS (98,000) before deciding to intervene by means of a human sacrifice in the primitive Middle East to straighten out humanity.
    How is it that this omnipotent God who watches us all the time and answers our prayers sat on his ass for 98,000 years when we , as a race , almost died out in central Africa some 60,000 years ago and then in his omniscience decided to take the action he did which was so ineffective that word of Jesus still hasn’t reached a great many parts of the planet. ? .
    The Church is and always has been on the side of the rich and powerful since each preys on the poor and depends on the continuation of poverty for its existence .
    The church hypocritically opposes sharing the wealth as their savior would have had them do as a first priority and remains mired in a primitive cultural system in which women were less than men.
    You can’t have a vagina and be any kind of spiritual leader in the fundamentalist ( read Bronze Age ) thinking of the three Abrahamic religions that arose in the socially primitive Middle East of thousands of years ago.
    Sorry , but you know how disgusting and yet how distracting those naughty bits can be to the dogs that pass for most men.
    That’s why Jewish and Muslim women have to pray away from the ( drooling, erect) men at synagogues and mosques. ( All those praying women have THOSE things hidden under their clothes) and the poor men just can’t concentrate on God stuff .
    Give me a break!
    Okay -this is my antitheist rant for the month unless someone wishes to engage me on the issues
    Dog bless us all.

  • I totally empathize with your writing Isbel. it’s interesting as i have mormon friends and if you think the RC Church is backward and homophobic, check them out. We’re living in changing times and as I’ve stated time and again the internet is changing perceptions and again, as in Ireland, a country that never would have even thought about legalizing gay marriage, they did the impossible. The church has many faults, as do I and i’m sure you, but they were instrumental in the rapid changes that perhaps you are seeing in Cuba and the pope was the conduit. I also think he’s well aware of the need for the church to change its tune with regards to gay people but that will take time. In short,
    the glass is half full and not to denigrate your excellent expressive and poignant post, perhaps we all should take a step back and thing about how we’re going to change the world. Peace

  • Thanks for a wonderful article, Isbel. You always keep us well informed.

    I’m a single woman with no children. I guess the pope doesn’t approve of me, since I haven’t “created.” Ah well. I’ve never been a Catholic anyway.

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