Activist Push For Family Rights

Cuba Going Queer?

Cuba may become the first Caribbean nation to recognize gay civil rights. Of course, such fag freedoms will only come about if the communist nation’s Parliament reforms the Family Code, a big ‘if’ to say the least. Caribbean 360 reports:

Drawn up by the non-governmental Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) with support from CENESEX, the draft reform of the Family Code has been presented to the Political Bureau, the highest body of the ruling Communist Party…

The proposal would give homosexual couples the same civil and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples. However, it does not mention gay marriage, because a change of that magnitude would require a lengthy process of reforming the constitution, which was last amended in 1992.

While certainly gay marriage’s ideal, activists assert Cuba’s not ready for such a cultural shift.

National Centre for Sex Education director Mariela Castro comments:

That proposal will be made when the time is ripe. For now, it is sufficient to reform the Family Code, which is recognised as a branch of Cuban law.

Post-communist Cuban law prohibited homosexuality for years. In fact, gays were often rounded up and sent to labor camps. Restrictions were later lifted in the 1990’s, when the government reformed homophobic legislation, including 1992’s reversal of anti-sodomy laws. Despite the political progress, many Cubans still discriminate against gays, a trend Family Code reformers hope to truncate:

The Family Code, which was originally approved in 1975 and submitted to a review process by the FMC since about 15 years ago, would now stipulate that the family has the responsibility and duty to accept and care for all of its members, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

If the initiative is approved, gay and lesbian couples would enjoy the same civil, patrimonial, inheritance, housing and adoption rights as heterosexual couples.

Though hopeful, Castro and other gay activists aren’t holding their breath for the reform’s passage:

I can’t guarantee that it will reach parliament this year.. That is our hope, but it does not depend on us, and of course, it is facing a great deal of resistance.

Though seemingly accepting, many Cuban politicos aren’t down with the gays. In fact, the government has banned any type of gay pride movement or other queer congregations, organizations or celebrations.

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  • Mikester

    In Cuba, Raúl Castro is widely rumoured to be gay. However (or perhaps fittingly), he has been known to persecute gays and lesbians.

  • walterlx

    Readers who want to know more about Cuba’s complex and at times rather conflicted relationship with its LGBT population can check out this web-page which contains many scores of articles and links, both favorable and unfavorable, and make up your own mind:

    As far as the rumor that Raul Castro is gay, my friend Joaquin Bustelo, a Cuban-American author, editor and activist, researched this question and says:

    I first learned the word “maricón” –equivalent to the English faggot– in relation to Raúl Castro, I’m not sure if it was in Cuba or the U.S., but I do remember being very afraid of my mother’s threat to wash out my mouth with soap if I ever said the word again. Pato –literally duck– meant the same thing and was almost, but not quite, as bad. The lesson I drew was that there were even worse things than communism, like using certain bad words in the presence of your mother. I must have been 8 or 9.

    You only need to look at old newsreels or pictures of Raul from 1959 or 1960 to see what it was based on. He was a slight young man with a ponytail. Raúl’s homosexuality was as much an established truth in Cuba counterrevolutionary circles as that the sun comes up in the East, or that Fidel was just waiting for the right moment to proclaim the law on the nationalization of children requiring parents to turn them over to the state at the age of three. The bit about their being shipped to the USSR to be ground up into sausage was not as well established a fact, but I daresay many people believed it. Especially us kids.

    Allen Ginsberg visited Cuba in the mid-60’s. Intrigued by Thorstad’s reference, I googled Ginsberg and Cuba and then Ginsberg and Raúl. There are countless references to his 1965 visit to Cuba, all with basically the same information, that Ginsberg was deported after protesting Cuba’s anti-Marihuana “stance” (I put the word in quote because it comes up over and over in these accounts) and saying Che was “cute.” I believe the stories all have the same root, probably a Ginsberg biography.

    The only data I could find on Raul and Ginsberg was an extremely short review in 2004 of a book about impressions of Cuba by famous people. The review says, “Allen Ginsberg, who was booted out of the country in 1965, was sympathetic to the Revolution’s basic goals but enraged by its abuse of homosexuals. Reflecting years later on his ill-fated visit, he told a reporter, ‘Well, the worst thing I said was that I’d heard, by rumor, that Raul Castro [Fidel’s younger brother] was gay. And the second worst thing I said was that Che Guevara was cute.'”

    I visited a perhaps three dozen sites specifically searching for Ginsberg-Raul information, which turned out to be a pretty random collection, and none but that one provided any information about Allen Ginsberg and Raúl Castro in relation to each other, despite the many sites repeating essentially the same story about Ginsberg in relation to Cuba. .

    I finally decided the well had run dry when I came to a site where a self-proclaimed Che admirer wanted more information about Che ordering the execution of people with AIDS. To be fair, s/he admired Che despite this, not because of it, but understood it in the historical context of those days.

    What can I say? You find a lot of really strange stuff about Cuba online, the island is a free-fire zone for allegations.

  • gladiolo

    Wow, how much ignorance! Although he was not an angel, Che Guevara left Cuba for Latin America between 1965 and 1966, and he was killed in Bolivia in 1967. Back then, AIDS was well far in the future. Unless he went Back to the Future to do such attrocities, its fair to say that theory is busted.

  • walterlx

    Surprisingly (you’d think the Catholic Church wouldn’t want to advertise this out loud) has reported just today that the Cuban government is about to grant adoption rights to gay couples:

    Cuban government seeking to make adoption a “right” for homosexual couples

    Havana, Jun 28, 2007 / 12:37 pm (CNA).- The Communist Party of Cuba has welcomed a plan to reform the country’s family laws to grant “full rights” to homosexual couples, including the adoption of children, allowing sex and identity changes for transsexuals and in the long term legalizing homosexual unions.

    The announcement was made by the director of the National Center for Sexual Education, Mariela Castro, during the 5th International Culture and Development Congress which was held in Havana.

    Castro, who is the daughter of interim president Raul Castro, said, “We think we should come to an agreement that there be an article in the Family Code on gender identity and sexual orientation for the right to free sexual orientation and gender identity.”

    Castro said the plan must first be approved by the Communist party bureau and later by the National Assembly. However, she said a request has already been filed with the Ministry of Public Health to allow three homosexual couples to receive reproduction assistance, in anticipation of the change in Cuban law. While she noted that there has been some resistance to the plan, she said, “Laws by themselves are not sufficient for achieving real change,” but they are essential to advancing policies.

    Regarding the legalization of homosexual unions, Castro said they could not yet be called “marriages” because that requires a change in Cuba’s Constitution. “That proposal will be made at an opportune moment. Right now changing the Family Code will be enough,” she added.

    “We have inherited a patriarchal family model,” she claimed. “We are not capable of breaking with it and we must do so,” Castro stated.


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