Raul Castro’s Daughter Pushes for Civil Unions in Cuba

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday January 25, 2012

The president of Cuba Raul Castro's daughter and Fidel Castro's niece, Mariela Castro, recently stated that the nation would consider legalizing civil unions, the Agence France Presse reported in a Jan. 17 article.

Mariel is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education and has been an activist for LGBT rights.

"According to the Justice Minister [Maria Esther Reus]... it is going to be discussed in the assembly, and is on the agenda for 2012," Mariela told the Cuban newspaper Cuba Si.

In a May 2011, EDGE article it was discussed how the island country has become one of the most progressive countries in Latin-America when it comes to LGBT issues and how much Mariela is appreciated by the community.

"She evokes the power and passion of Eva Peron combined with the wisdom and insight of Hillary Clinton, yet she is remarkably accessible," author Byron Motley writes. "Her girl-next-door demeanor and welcoming smile have earned her the nickname 'Sangreliviana' (sweet blood). It cannot be understated how truly loved Castro-Espin is by the LGBT community and how much she loves them in return. The mutual level of respect is palpable."

In the 80s Cubans who had the HIV virus were quarantined to treatment centers in order to improve what the government called a "gay problem." Since then it seems the country has competently changed its views thanks to Cuba's First Daughter.

The Associated Press noted in a Jan. 17 article that Cuba's citizens have become more accepting of gays over the years. Gay Pride Parades were at one time illegal but are now openly celebrated, especially in the country's capital of Havana. The government has launched anti-homophobia campaigns and has even paid for sex change operations, thanks to Mariela.

In 2005, she proposed a project that allowed transgender to receive the operation and legally change their gender and it was passed into law in June 2008. Mariela also has helped create campaigns for the acceptance of the LGBT community and AIDS prevention.

The anti-gay conservative website Life Site News reported that Mariela said the U.S. State Department funded Cuba $300,000 to "strengthen the inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community."

The U.S. State Department said that the money will be used to "to strengthen grassroots organizations to create the conditions that allow meaningful and unhindered participation by members of LGBT community in all aspects of Cuban society."

When Life Site News reported the story several of its readers were furious that the U.S. was spending money to improve LGBT communities in other parts of the world, especially in Cuba.

One reader commented, "You can tell that the days of Fidel being in charge of Cuba are gone....do you think he would have 'buckled under' the pressure of the United States government?"