By Isbel Díaz
HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 2 – Cuba voted in the UN in favor of eliminating direct references to sexual orientation in a resolution that condemns extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions. This action has aroused rightful indignation among people on and off the island.
Several days have now passed since the vote and the resulting protests, however it’s not still known if any official response has been issued by the government institutions in question.
I personally didn’t even know that my country periodically ratified this resolution; therefore I was pleased, in principle, when I learned of that news. However, this amendment that approved the modification of the resolution is serious indeed. Notwithstanding, I don’t think there have been any direct repercussions from the Cuban LGBT community (if such a populace exists, because when one thinks of a community you imagine a minimum degree of organization around a certain level of consensus).
I can’t say that I’ve seen any direct repercussions, but there has indeed been something insinuated: If the decision makers and experts in these areas have opted for this path, we can imagine that our timid hopes for the legal recognition of unions different from heterosexual ones are far from being realized.
Sure, one needn’t get unnecessarily alarmed when our minister of justice demonstrated in an interview a few months ago that she was not even aware of the proposals around reforming our Family Code. Apparently the “Days of Struggle Against Homophobia,” which have been taking place every May, don’t seem to have been enough, especially when on the other side there are “deaf ears” to the demand of an important bloc of the Cuban citizenry. I think it will be necessary to deepen the struggle.
On the other hand, if — borrowing from the phrase of our national hero, Jose Marti — “Homeland is humanity,” then the consequences faced by a person who is a homosexual in the United Arab Emirates should be of concern to us on this island in the Caribbean. To know that still today there exist countries that persecute and sanction human beings with the most severe forms of punishment (up too and including state-sanctioned murder) for the simple fact of loving another person of their same sex, this is revolting. Moreover, to place us alongside those countries regarding this same issue is at least shameful.
Direct references to sexual orientation — which have now been excluded — had somewhat protected LGBT populations that in several countries lack protection under their constitutions and whose sexual preferences are criminalized with total impunity. After this vote, these governments have received backing for the continuation of such practices.
I’m unfamiliar with the operational mechanisms of the United Nations, but the Cuban delegation has the moral duty to rectify its vote within that body (even if this would not succeed at change the amendment). They also have the obligation to report these facts to the Cuban public.
Mariela Castro Espin, the director of the National Center of Sexual Education, has published a useful statement; she reported on what happened and noted that Cuba “joined in voting with the group of countries that consider homosexuality a crime.” Although the text only verifies the fact, but doesn’t explicitly condemn it, I think it’s an encouraging sign. Reading between the lines one can understand that she has distanced herself from the position of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, something quite unprecedented in our situation.
The Ministry has not made a public response. As is customary, such responses take time… and it’s possible they won’t come. But that too is customary.
Proposed Excerpt: Cuba voted in the UN in favor of eliminating direct references to sexual orientation in a resolution that condemns extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions.
Diary photo 20-1: For the simple fact of loving someone of their same sex…
Diary photo 20-2: Mariela Castro Espin, director of the National Center of Sexual Education