“Gay Pride” Celebrated in Cuba with Symbolic “Wedding”

By Isaac Risco  (Photos: Juan Suarez)

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban activists held a symbolic “religious marriage” at “Gay Pride” day in Havana on Saturday, after a colorful parade led by sexologist Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro, reported dpa.

More than a thousand people participated in this year’s march, held for the eighth time this year, demanding work spaces “without homophobia or transphobia”.

Topping off the parade held the musical rhythm of a traditional Cuban “conga” this year organizers planned a ceremony in which interested heterosexual or homosexual couples could consecrate their “marriage” before Protestant religious authorities.

Around 20 activists symbolically gave the “yes” in the event supported by the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) led by Mariela Castro.

“We call them ‘holy unions,” said Reverend Roger LaRade who officiated several ‘marriages’ in the Cuba Pavilion center in the central Havana neighborhood of Vedado. LaRade is archbishop of the Eucharistic Catholic Church of Canada, which is considered itself Catholic even though they are not recognized by the Vatican.

His church celebrates such unions since the 90s, said Larade, who had left the Catholic Church for being a homosexual. The priest described the celebration of “gay pride” in Cuba as “very cheerful and full of life.”

The act “means a further step in our relationship,” said Luis Enrique Mederos, who celebrated his “religious marriage” with his partner of 14 years. With this symbolic act, “religious faith is acknowledging our love,” said the 47-year- old graphic designer.

“We’ve been through so much to get to today,” said his partner, Alain Morales. The worker, 38, from Cuba’s emerging private sector, said they both have always defended their rights on the island, which for years now has been opening to the defense of the rights of homosexuals.

The changes and the religious union held today encourage us in the “hope that one day we can be united in a legalized relationship,” said the optimistic Mederos.

This year’s parade was larger than in the past. Mederos emphasized that the situation for sexual minorities in Cuba has improved in recent years, although the island has not yet legalized “gay marriage,” as they have done in some other countries on the continent.

For many years the Cuban Parliament has sat on a reform proposal of the Family Code to allow gay marriage, put forth by Mariela Castro.

The daughter of the president drew attention last year after revelations that she voted against the new Labor Code in the National Assembly in late 2013, because she felt that the law did not go far enough in defending homosexuals, lesbians and transsexuals.

Mariela Castro at the “Gay Pride” day against homophobia in Havana on May 10, 2015.

Mariela said on Saturday that perhaps she had been a little “romantic” to expect profound legal changes so quickly, but was confident that the country would do so in the future.

“Perhaps I was a bit romantic, but that’s not so bad because you set goals,” Mariela Castro told reporters. “We’ve been ahead of what the general population has been able to understand,” she said. As in other countries in Latin America, in Cuba the model of a patriarchal society has dominated.

Homosexuals were discriminated against socially and interned in labor camps during the first decades of the revolution led by Fidel Castro since 1959..

“The biggest obstacle still present in Cuban society is the retrograde sexism” said Luis Enrique Mederos, who also asked “that has the draft Family Code” reform supported by Mariela Castro be taken up by the parliament.

Mariela said this week that the idea of religious unions during the parade came after she saw the “group marriage” during a visit to Toronto. She said she liked the idea of such acts for their “spiritual component” and culture “of peace and respect.”

This year’s May campaign in Cuba against homophobia is focusing on labor rights of gay and transgender communities. It includes various events and conferences in the Cuban capital and in the province of Las Tunas, in the east of the country, from May 5-23.

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3 thoughts on ““Gay Pride” Celebrated in Cuba with Symbolic “Wedding”

  • Isn’t it interesting how the Castro family regime which for many years locked up homosexuals – and for many years, changed its views and policies when the chickens came home to roost within their own family in the form of Mariela. It is impossible not to be cynical when there is an open publicised parade in Havana of homosexuals yet a similar size of parade by people seeking freedom of political expression, freedom of the media would be locked up. Perhaps the Ladies in White should have chosen rainbow colours and be so doing have received the approval of the regime.

  • So when will princess Mariela Castro start the investigation on the UMAP Concentration Camps in Cuba during the 1960’s? Several years ago she said there would be an investigation. I hope it happens and that many of the victims get to testify!

    YOUTUBE: DOCUMENTARY – “Conducta Impropria/Improper Conduct” (Part 5)- Reinaldo Arenas appear in this segment and others. – (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción) were agricultural labor camps operated by the Cuban government from November 1965 to July 1968 in the province of Camagüey.[1] The inmates of UMAP camps consisted of gay men, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholic and Protestant priests, intellectuals, farmers who refused collectivization, as well as anyone else considered “anti-social” or “counter-revolutionary.”[2] Former Cuban intelligence agent Norberto Fuentes estimated that of approximately 35,000 internees, 507 ended up in psychiatric wards, 72 died from torture, and 180 committed suicide.[3] A 1967 human rights report from the Organization of American States found that over 30,000 internees are “forced to work for free in state farms for more than eight hours a day and are given the same treatment as political prisoners.”[4] The report concludes that the UMAP camps’ two objectives are “facilitating free labor for the state” and “punishing young people who refuse to join communist organizations.”[5] The Cuban government maintained that the UMAPs are not labor camps, but part of the military service.[6] In a 2010 interview with La Jornada, Fidel Castro admitted in response to a question about the UMAP camps that “Yes, there were moments of great injustice, great injustice!”[7]

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