Remember that time when the White House invited some gays over to the White House? Cuba just did something similar, and those gays are thrilled! Or at least as thrilled as they can be after watching their own country vote in favor of the Arab-led effort in the United Nations to keep sexual orientation from being a naughty reason to kill people.
For the first time, Cuban officials held an official sit down with LGBT activists. Meeting for two hours with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno at their government offices, the activists (some of whom are also bloggers).
“A summary of the conversation will be on my blog in a few hours,” journalist and gay activist Francisco Rodríguez Cruz told IPS shortly after emerging from Wednesday’s meeting, which was also attended by Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno. The reporter, who is better known by the name of his blog, “Paquito el de Cuba”, said the meeting “was as unexpected as it was useful and beneficial.
“All of the people taking part in the meeting learned something from it,” said the blogger, a member of Cuba’s ruling Communist Party. He is one of the protagonists of what could, without exaggeration, be described as a historic moment: the first formal meeting between a Cuban foreign minister and representatives of this country’s gay community, which has only recently begun to openly organise.
Rodríguez Cruz had sent a personal appeal to the foreign minister, asking him to change “sexual orientation” to “discriminatory reasons on any basis” in the U.N. resolution — which Cuba voted in favor of, the only Latin American country to do so.
So did the meeting accomplish anything? Sure: dialogue!
According to the recent blog post on “Paquito el de Cuba”, in the two-hour “chat” with the foreign minister and his deputy, “both officials spoke at length about the complexities of U.N. voting mechanisms” and “the inevitable confrontations and alliances between blocs of countries.” Besides describing “the political manipulations by powerful states against underdeveloped nations” in scenarios like the annual U.N. General Assembly sessions, the officials “listened receptively and with great interest to our arguments, concerns and suggestions.” According to Rodríguez Cruz, the minister said during the conversation that “there has been no shift in policy” with respect to Cuba’s opposition to any form of discrimination or its promotion of respect for free sexual orientation and gender identity.
The controversial vote in question was the result of “an unforeseen and very specific circumstance,” said Minister Rodríguez, as reported by the blogger. The vote cast by the Cuban delegation was, moreover, explained at the time to the Committee, the minister said. The text of the Cuban government’s explanation, which was delivered to the representatives of CENESEX and the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community), was not reported by the journalists stationed at the U.N. or by the local press in Cuba.
In the document, the Cuban delegation clarifies that this Caribbean island nation is “against any kind of discrimination, for whatever reason, whether race, skin colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic status, birth or any other social condition. “Cuba voted in favour of the amendment proposed by the group of African nations because it considers it to be sufficiently broad and encompassing. It refers to all executions committed on the basis of any kind of discrimination, which in Cuba’s view also includes killings committed on grounds of sexual orientation,” the text adds.