Fidel's niece fighting for a sexual revolution

Campaign News | Monday, 3 July 2006

Mariela Castro is promoting new measures on gay and transsexual rights

Mariela Castro is leading a Cuban revolution less well known than her Uncle Fidel's: one in favour of sexual tolerance within the island's macho society.

Castro, 43, is leading the charge from her government-funded National Centre for Sex Education, based in an old Havana mansion.

As director of the group, she promoted a soap opera that scandalised many Cubans in March by sympathetically depicting bisexuality. The controversial show depicted, among other story lines, the life of a construction worker who leaves his wife and children for the man next door.

Now President Castro's niece is pushing for passage of a law that would give transsexuals free sex change operations and hormonal therapy in addition to granting them new identification documents with their changed gender.

A Bill was presented to parliament last year and was well received, she said. It is expected to come up for a vote in December.

If approved, it would make Cuba the most liberal nation in Latin America on gender issues.

Castro says her goal is to bring the revolution her uncle and father, Defence Minister Raul Castro, fought 47 years ago to the terrain of sexuality. Her group has also campaigned for better Aids prevention as well as acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality and transvestism.

"I want to bring the revolution's humanity to those aspects of life that it hasn't reached because of old prejudices," she said.

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