could pave the way for same sex marriage,
Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro
She is the director of the National Center for
Sex Education, or Cenesex, and promotes
policies to help women and the LGBT
The National Assembly is drafting a new
constitution that will maintain the one-party
system but aims to adapt the country to new
social and economic times. The current one
dates from 1976.
“In the constitution there is a section on
rights in which LGBT people must be
involved,” Castro told AFP in an interview.
“Constitutions do not necessarily get down
to specifics. They open doors so later we can
talk about changing the legislative system.”
Support of current President Miguel
As a member of the Cuban Communist
Party, Mariela Castro works to teach leaders
as well as everyday citizens about tolerance.
One of them was Miguel Diaz-Canel, who
took over as president in April, ending
decades of rule by the Castro brothers --
first Fidel and then his brother Raul. DiazCanel
got tolerance education as a member
of the party’s youth wing.
“At one time he would go to Cenesex and
attend our meeting, and we had a very
productive dialogue,” Castro said.
She said Cuban society has made progress
on issues involving LGBT rights.
“Before, there was prejudice against talking about these things.
Eleven years ago we started holding seminars about homophobia
and trans-phobia. And that helped to pave the way for dialogue
among the population,” she said.
For the past decade Havana has hosted a gay rights parade
called the Conga.
“There are people who are bothered by seeing LGBT
people dressed up and having fun, and there are
those who enjoy it,” said Castro.
“We do not want to cause unease but rather
instill interest in dialogue,” she added.
And it is not just a matter of passing laws: in countries
with same sex marriage there can still be high levels of
violence against LGBT people, such as in Mexico.
“With marriages, did they stop that violence attitude? No.
Bring on laws, of course, but we must work from a policy
standpoint and in that we have not made enough progress,” said
From June 25-29 Cenesex is holding a convention on sex education,
orientation and therapy.
Erode the patriarchal state
Castro has recalled that since 1965 abortion has been legal in Cuba and is carried out
“The goal was to save the lives of women and ensure their right to decide what they do
with their body,” she said.
But in Latin America, a misogynous mindset dating way back still predominates,
according to Castro.
Even with women as president in some countries it has been hard to work for gender
“They did not manage to bring about change. Not because the women did not want to
but rather they faced very strong political opposition,” Castro said.
Cuba also went through periods of resistance to women’s rights -- “but we were lucky
to have the leadership of Fidel Castro” who in 1960 created the Federation of Cuban
Women, she said.
Cuba’s national assembly has the highest proportion of women in the world, after that
of Rwanda, she argued.
The work that
began 60 years
ago has helped
as the paradigm of
“We have not
overcome all the
of the patriarchal
state but we have
June 22, 2018.
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