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      Cuba Solidarity Summer in Vancouver

      By Janine Solanki

      As August came to a close, it was with the last few events of a Pride season full of marches, parades, festivals and all sorts of activities to celebrate the gains of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) community, and to continue fighting against discrimination and to advance LGBTQ+ rights.

      Every year, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) participates in Pride events throughout the summer with a simple message - “Cuba says: LGBTQ rights are human rights.” Unfortunately, due to mainstream media lies and misinformation, this statement comes as a surprise to some people. This is why VCSC is out at Pride to let people know that Cuba is a leading force in advancing LGBTQ rights!

      On August 4 , VCSC participated in the annual Dyke March, holding a banner reading “Cuba says: LGBTQ rights are human rights” while marching down Commercial Drive to the Grandview Park festival. VCSC also had a table at the festival, where many people stopped by to get more information. They were intrigued to find out that Cuba is making huge strides in LGBTQ rights, where gender reassignment surgery is free, same-sex couples have the right to adopt, and most recently the right to same-sex marriage is being added to their new constitution.

      The next day on August 5 , VCSC organizers and supporters decorated a vehicle with banners, flags and all sorts of colourful adornments, and put on their bright matching t-shirts reading “Humanity is Diversity! Viva Cuba!”. The VCSC contingent of the 40th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade walked down the parade route through downtown Vancouver holding a banner for hundreds of thousands of cheering on-lookers to see, reading “Cuba says: Sexual diversity is not dangerous! Homophobia and Transphobia are!” The parade ended at the Sunset Beach festival, where VCSC had an information table and was able to talk to many people about what Cuba is doing for LGBTQ rights.

      On August 9 VCSC organized a community event titled “Humanity is Diversity” in Vancouver, which started out with an introduction by Tamara Hansen, VCSC’s coordinator, on why we have a lot to learn from Cuba’s LGBTQ movement. The evening featured the documentary film “Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution” which gave a candid history of the early struggles of Cuba’s LGBTQ community, to the inspiring achievements today. The film also follows the current projects against discrimination and to advance LGBTQ rights being led by the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). After the film, VCSC organizers Azza Rojbi and Janine Solanki showed photos and spoke about their experiences at Cuba’s International Days Against Homophobia and Transphobia in 2016, which included conferences, an amazing gala show and a conga march against homophobia and transphobia through the streets of Havana. Before the event wrapped up, participants tested their knowledge of Cuba and the LGBTQ movement with a trivia game, complete with exciting prizes!

      Later in August, the VCSC information table decked out with Cuban, Pride and Trans flags was also out all day at the August 18 New Westminster Pride street festival, providing information and talking with many people at the busy festival.

      Whether during Pride season or all year round, there is much to learn about and be inspired by Cuba’s vibrant LGBTQ+ movement! To find out about more VCSC and Cuba solidarity events visit www.vancubasolidarity.com, or follow on Facebook and Twitter @VanCuba_VCSC

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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