LGBTIQ activists

[20-07-2015]

Activists against homophobia in Cuba are seeking to come up with a common agenda, increase their political influence, and fully exercise their basic rights.

The exclusion of a group of LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) activists from a supposedly gay-friendly bar in Havana has been widely reported.

"The struggle is not over," wrote intellectual Norge Espinosa in a note on the event.

Feminist Yasmín S. Portales highlighted the importance of paying closer attention to family, police and social violence.

"We are deeply concerned about labor rights, rights of association, and the predominance of heterosexual criteria at schools, hospitals, prisons and the mass media," she added.

The Facebook page Por el matrimonio igualitario en Cuba (For same-sex marriage in Cuba) has had over 660 supporters.

Moving from virtual support to legislative change is quite a difficult task, however.

Activists have often criticized the lack of visibility of the anteproyecto de Código de Familia (Draft Family Code), which includes legal union between homosexuals.

Maykel Vivero (Nictálope blog) recalled that this situation has prevailed for years.

Meetings

The Cuban Meetings against Homophobia and Transphobia in May and June 2007 helped increase visibility of the local LGBTIQ community.

They also paved the way for the inclusion of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation (but not of gender identity) in the new Labor Code and for sex reassignment surgery under the public health system.

The National Sex Education Center (CENESEX) and its director Mariela Castro have played a key role in these efforts.

This institution has also supported the establishment of community networks like TransCuba and Humanity for Diversity (HxD) to promote debate and participation in international congresses.

At the same time, independent groups such Rainbow Project and newsletters like Tutututu have sought to empower non-heterosexual women of African descent.

Other Cuban blogs along these lines include Negra Cubana, Paquito el de Cuba, Alberto Roque, El Nictálope, etc.

Types of activism

Vivero indicated that there are two different types of LGBTIQ activism in Cuba today: the institutional, which is led by CENESEX, and the independent, which is not officially recognized.

"This negatively affects our common efforts," he stressed.

Manuel Vázquez, a CENESEX lawyer and activist, highlighted the importance of institutional activism for partnerships with state structures that should ensure the rights of Cuban men and women.

Speaking at a panel last May, he said that good practices will help foster social justice and inclusion on the island.

On the other hand, Vivero believes that awareness-raising campaigns and projects are not enough.

"These two types of activism have so far failed to formulate a strategy for effective lobbying," he regretted.

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