Prejudice in Cuba 'still a big problem'

Campaign News | Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Morning Star report from LGBT TUC conference

There are still significant challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Cuba, leading gay Cuban activist Dr Alberto Roque has told delegates to the LGBT conference.

Dr Roque, who works for the Cuban sexual diversity project CENESEX, said that, while it is not illegal to be homosexual, homophobic views still remain in the population.

"We need to improve the sexual diversity education for young people in school to combat this," he said.

He added that barriers still existed for gay Cubans to adopt, noting that parliamentarians had been most resistant to this possibility.

"This is a tricky area, because many Cuban families are unique in their structure," he explained.

"Lots of couples are not married but same sex adoption is looked on by some as wrong.

"But you should not go away thinking that this is due to Communist Party officials - many of them are supportive - but it is about the pace of change."

Most LGBT Cubans were in favour of their partnerships becoming legally recognised.

However, there would need to be constitutional amendment for this to happen.

Dr Roque said huge strides had been made in places like Santa Clara, with a space provided for LGBT people to "be themselves in safety" and that funding had been made available for this despite the tough economic climate."

"We have centuries of misunderstanding to overcome - we will do it step by step," he added.

FBU LGBT committee member Peter Wilcox heaped praise on the island following his first study tour visit last year.

"I realised then that I was ignorant of the truth about Cuba," he said.

Mr Wilcox said that the media lies and myths he'd been subjected to stood in stark contrast to his experiences.

"Those students I met said they had never had any problems being LGBT.

"I walked along the Malecon in Havana at 1am in the morning and you see people just having a good time, being openly gay, just being themselves."

Admitting there were still obstacles to overcome, he nevertheless challenged the conference, asking: "Why do we expect another country to be a utopia, when we haven't got it exactly right, have we?"

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