Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cubans Celebrate In March for International Day Against Homophobia

Yesterday, Cubans marched in the 2nd annual International Day Against Homophobia. Hundreds of LGBT participants were out in full force with flags, others danced to the beat of drums, but all were glad to be marching to end world wide homophobia. The Celebration marks the anniversary of the day in May 17th 1990, when The World Health Organization stopped listing homosexuality as a mental illness.

Mariela Castro, Sexologist and head of The National Center for Sex Education who is the daughter of Cuba’s current president Raul Castro, lead the festivities. She is credited with many of the huge changes in attitudes and laws regarding gays on the island. It is a little known fact that Cuba has included sex reassignment surgery to it’s National health plan since 2008.

Although the march was held yesterday, it actually spans several days, culminating May 17th. Many who attended spoke of the great amount of change that Cuba has undergone since the days when gays and lesbians were imprisoned or sent to work camps in the 1960's. Many citizens fled into exile. It is something that has gradually changed throughout the last two decades.

While there is an upbeat vitality and hope on the island many agree that there is still much work to be done. Many on the island are still persecuted for being gay, including being jailed or detained for congregating at parks, beaches and cinemas. Ms. Castro who has been at the forefront of change for the LGBT stated:

We recognize that we have advanced, but not as much as we want, and so we put new challenges to society.

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