Cuba, France Join Intl. Effort Against Homophobia

California isn’t the only place loving up on the gays. France and Cuba both made headway – and headlines – this weekend after signing onto International Day Against Homophobia, which took place on Saturday.

Cuba’s endorsement of the self-explanatory event comes less than two months after first daughter Mariel Castro (pictured, center) proposed civil union legislation.

Things have been changing fairly rapidly in Cuba, it should come as no surprise that things went off without a hitch this weekend. We are, however, pleasantly surprised by the government’s dedication: state-owned television repeatedly aired Brokeback Mountain. A homo-centric Hollywood movie in Cuba? Times are a-changing! Still, politicos don’t want to get too optimistic:

Parliament head Ricardo Alarcon said the government needs to do more to promote gay rights, but said many Cubans still need to be convinced.

Things “are advancing, but must continue advancing, and I think we should do that in a coherent, appropriate and precise way because these are topics that have been taboo and continue to be for many,” Alarcon told reporters.

France, meanwhile, could learn a lesson from the communist nation.

As Cuba extended its hand to the homos, France had its arm twisted by direct gay action. IDAHO’s founder Louis-Georges Tin found himself in a jail cell after he and a few other activists staged a die-in at France’s presidential palace. Tin later blamed the right-leaning government: “Here, in France, the situation is very complex. The conservative government was totally opposed to our cause.” That said, he and his chums knew they had to take illegal action to the government to move on the matter. And they were right. Within hours of the arrests, the French government promised to throw its weight behind fighting homophobia – and the rest of the United Nations:

France plans to ask the United Nations to push for homosexuality to be decriminalized around the globe, a government minister said Saturday, as gays and lesbians worldwide marked the International Day Against Homophobia.

Human Rights Minister Rama Yade told a delegation of French gay and lesbian groups that Paris would push for “a European initiative calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality,” according to a statement.

She said Paris would submit the initiative to the United Nations after it takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency in July — a period during which France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly.

The United Nations, of course, will then have to bicker and argue for an even longer time. But, of course, it’s the thought that counts.

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  • walterlx

    The Cuban government’s policy these days it to leave LGBT people alone, a far cry from past policies and practices. Actually, Cuba’s policies towards LGBT people have been changing for some time.

    Full English translations of extensive interviews with Mariela Castro and articles from the Cuban media explaining the importance for all Cubans of the island’s participation in the World Day Against Homophobia are all available here:

    One example would be this two-page newspaper spread:

    Not long ago the New York Philharmonic went to North Korea to perform. Cuba is the only place on earth where people from the United States need a permission slip from the federal government to go for a visit. What are they so afraid that we’ll see? How bad life supposedly is there? Of course Cuba has any number of problems, but somehow the society manages to work despite many obstacles.

    Considering everything, from geography to population magnitude and more, Cuba and the United States are not and cannot be equal. Cuba’s government certainly does limit democratic rights.

    But in a situation like David and Goliath, Cuba does what it feels it must to defend itself. Look at Iraq today and you can see what Cuba would look like if it were “liberated” by Washington.

  • Snoodle

    It’s quite remarkable how far Cuba has come recently o_O

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