Cuba’s LGBTI+ Community Marches Without Permission

Photo Feature By Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES – It turned out that the best thing that could happen was the suspension of the conga parade that, under the tutelage of the government-approved CENESEX, is carried out every year in May for the day against homophobia. The LGBTI+ community had expressed their disagreement with the cancelation of the event on the social networks and decided to march on their own.

For several days the announcements circulated until the date arrived. During this period some persons were threatened and harassed to keep them from reaching the meeting point. On the morning of May 11, activists Jimmy Roque and Isbel Diaz Torres were detained.

Around four o’clock in the afternoon Havana’s Central Park – which was already surrounded by police – was occupied by activists and the press. Nobody had asked for permission to be there. The walk began on the Paseo del Prado.

The young people – it must be said, most of them were – shouted: “we do not need your conga parade”, “for a diverse Cuba”, “we march for our rights” etc., and waved flags.

Down the street, alongside the Prado promenade, there was another parallel walk, more stressed and accompanied by police patrols. Some wore uniforms but others were civilian and pretended to camouflage themselves in the crowd although they were perfectly recognizable.

Everything went on in an organized, peaceful and joyful way. At the end of Prado, when they were about to reach the Malecon, the authorities intervened by deploying their police force and surrounding those who marched.

It seemed a trap, however, despite the absurd and tense situation, no one succumbed to the provocation, and there was no aggressiveness until several people without uniforms abruptly detained several activists.

Unable to continue, faced with the police harassment, there were also no inappropriate reactions, to the contrary, people remained calm.

Now the government will invent excuses to justify the scenes that happened there; they will talk about CIA agents or people paid by the Miami mafia and impose fines. However, the images are already traveling the world and all of us who were there are witnesses of what really happened.

This Saturday May 11 will remain in the memory of many, and not only for the colors of the rainbow that shined like never before. It’s because Cuban civil society showed that it can organize, join and support itself. It realized that it doesn’t have to wait for anyone’s permission to take to its own streets.




Ariel Urquiola was one of the activists that suffered the repression.






The moment when the Police said they wouldn’t let the march continue on the Malecon.


One girl suggested: If we can’t walk, why not kiss? 

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

5 thoughts on “Cuba’s LGBTI+ Community Marches Without Permission

  • May 17, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Debra, you clearly do not comprehend repression in Cuba. To endeavor to excuse it by writing “All governments repress”, and by so doing endeavor to excuse the Castro regime, is shameful.
    There is no comparison between the rights to demonstrate in the free Western hemisphere countries and Cuba. Those who don’t live in the US wonder how it was that 63 milllion Americans voted for a narcissistic bully. But the First Amendment is effective, as one only has to turn to CNN to hear hour after hour of open criticism of the US President. The New York Times is on open sale. Martin Luther King’s wonderful “I have a dream” was witnessed by how many protesters? There are a succession of demonstrations outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in London there are daily demonstrations outside the House of Commons, both for and against Brexit.
    Where are the demonstrations in Cuba – the White Ladies who are assaulted by the MININT goons. Brave women who do suffer repression. Who ever dares to openly criticize the Castro regime – for doing so is a criminal offence.
    I am not saying that in the US, the wide variety of heavily armed Police Forces and Sheriffs (shades of Wild Bill) and are not guilty of assault upon people demonstrating – who may vary from law-abiding citizens to armed Nazis, but demonstration is still a daily occurrence.

  • May 13, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Good for the Cubans and from freedom. In USA tambien hay que pedir permiso para marchar. I saw people getting beat up in a march against the Iraq war. All gobernments repress! Look at Trump trying to repress the press in America!!!

  • May 13, 2019 at 3:28 am

    It was refreshing to see some of the Cubans take to the street for validation of the LGBT under Human rights for all. It maybe gives others hope. Thanks for covering it.

  • May 12, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Looks like you’ve got plenty to keep you occupied in your own country than to keep sticking your nose into, and harassing Nicaragua. Let this be a lesson to you.

    If you are in fact, so against repression, what are you doing in your own Cuba to end the repression there? Looks like you’ve got plenty of it there to deal with.

  • May 12, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Good for the LGBT take away the monopoly that dictatorship have over the community using the community as political tool for the government propaganda. After all the dictatorship never has apologized for the concentration camps for homosexuals in the 1960’s

Comments are closed.