Raul Castro’s daughter will receive the Equality Award
HAVANA TIMES — The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, sexologist Mariela Castro Espín, has obtained permission to travel to Philadelphia to participate in a forum on equality for lesbians and receive an award for her efforts in favor of transsexuals in Cuba, announced the event’s organizers on Tuesday, reported dpa news.
“Equality Forum is delighted that the State Department has affirmed democratic values by authorizing Mariela Castro to speak at Equality Forum 2013,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of the Equality Forum in a statement on Tuesday.
He added that the event “is an open forum which will include a discussion of the history, progress and challenges of LGBT Cubans.”
The forum, to be held in Philadelphia from May 2-5, will “include a discussion of the history, progress and challenges of LGBT Cubans,” according to its program.
Mariela Castro, also the niece of historic Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is the director of the National Sexual Education Center of Cuba (Censex), from which she has led a strong campaign for the rights of gay and transgender community of the island.
In Philadelphia, Castro will receive the International Ally for LGBT Equality Award and participate on a panel regarding Cuba.
The organization reported last week that the State Department had granted Mariela Castro a visa to participate in various United Nations activities in New York, but would not allow her to travel to Philadelphia to participate in the specialized forum.
It is not the first time that a visit to the United States by Mariela Castro causes a political stir.
Last year, it even became an element of attack in the hard fought presidential campaign between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney, who criticized the granting of visas to Raul Castro’s daughter to participate in a conference in San Francisco as a “slap” to dissent from the island by a White House that has “softened” US policy towards Cuba.