Homophobia in Cuba: The Work Ahead of Us

Luis Rondón Paz

Photo: Telesurtv.net

HAVANA TIMES — In the afternoon of May 17, I happened to sit down in front of the TV to watch Telesur. They were airing a documentary about the LGBT movement titled “El Mismo Amor, Los Mismos Derechos” (“Same Love, Same Rights”).

Even though I missed the beginning of the film, it left me nailed to my seat. I was moved to find out that countries like Argentina have made progress in the struggle to secure effective legislation in this connection – something which, unfortunately, does not exist in Cuba when it comes to sexual minorities.

It’s sad to come to this realization this way, I thought. In light of the absence of constituted control and regulation mechanisms, I cannot help but conclude that, over the past five years, very little progress has been made in terms of sexual rights and recognition.

An illustration of this is how, in 2012, the National Population and Housing Census did not register non-conventional (same-sex) partnerships, thus thwarting any short-term project aimed at impelling equitable reforms and building a country with greater guarantees for citizens in terms of fundamental human rights. The maneuver, rather, constituted a step back in policies aimed at raising the awareness of Cuban society in issues of equity and justice.

I believe the law ought to be in step with our awareness campaign. Otherwise, these become what many members of the LGBT community, for reasons I do not agree with but respect, call a “circus.”

Had the 2012 census registered these families, today the higher government institutions (I am referring to the Cuban Parliament), rather than pressured, could be persuaded on the basis of a tangible study, results and statistics, and this, the highest representative of the people’s will in Cuba, would be duty-bound to address the demands of sexual minorities and set down laws that guarantee their rights on the basis of an inclusive, democratic and just Family Code that is in step with the coming new constitution. The Council of State would then instruct the Council of Ministers (an entity with real power) to implement its decrees, reforms and laws, so as to establish a formal body of laws that guarantee these fundamental human rights.

One of the appendices of the platform for Cuba’s new “socialist” economic model points out that the Cuban State is determined to impel policies that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. It remains to be seen whether the recently appoved “Labor Code” will address the “matter.” As far as I know, the Official Gazette has not yet published the document because the final revisions had allegedly not yet been made.

I wonder:

How long will it take for the document to be edited, so that the recommendations voiced during the last sessions can be added to it?

We’ll we have to wait 4 more years?

Why so much secrecy? Why doesn’t anynone in the media say or write anything about what’s happened with the Family Code?

Will there be a “new constitution” – if one is actually drawn up – reflecting the reforms Cuba has implemented in the face of changes around the world?

Whatever the case may be, I have not lost hope. But, damn! I’m 31 years old and I still don’t see where we’re heading clearly. I was 24 when someone awakened in me the idea of seeking legal recognition and protection, securing the right to build a non-heterosexual family, becoming a person, feeling that my country is just and that it guarantees rights for everyone.

I want for gay marriages to cease being unconstitutional, as they are in Cuba today, that they become an option for those who wish to establish them, and that those people also enjoy the benefits of having their partnership recognized by law. I want for these possibilities to be guaranteed by the law.

I believe that what we need to become better, freer and fairer human beings is to build a Cuba in which there are no longer any reasons to hold a rally against homophobia, that the “issue” cease to be a topic of conversation or a joke told at workplaces and nightclubs. I want for that lifestyle to become one more option, for diversity to be accepted as what it is: as diversity, nature, life.

I dream of a future Cuba that has become a tourist destination for the LGBT community, where people go not to engage in sexual tourism but to get to know this Caribbean isle, a place without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, where physical or psychological violence arising from these does not exist.

I would like to start thinking of Cuba as the country where structured, institutional homophobia has disappeared, because the government finally managed to identify the root of the problem and took action to guarantee the wellbeing and rights of all Cubans.

3 thoughts on “Homophobia in Cuba: The Work Ahead of Us

  • Raul and Fidel Castro are still in control.
    They set up the UMAP.

  • They hardly “still control the regime,” CUBAQUS; those folks are either six feet under, or now in their dotage. Although the U.S. has made much progress in overcoming homophobia, at least on the East- and Left Coasts, gays are still hounded in much of the South, the Mid-West and West. Seems like Cuba has made more progress in gay rights than most of America has–at least in flyover country! Both Cuba and the U.S. have a long way to go.

  • Cuba has a long way to go, lots of work.
    One of the problems is that the leaders that created the UMAP concentration camps where homosexuals were sent to still control the regime.

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