Cuban LGBTQ+

Cuban LGBTQ+ situation

LGBT world

Cuban LGBTQ+ people live in a Caribbean island nation with a complex history and culture, especially when it comes to their rights and experiences. Here you find an overview of the current situation, the challenges and the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community.

The political system

Cuba has a socialist political system, led by the Communist Party of Cuba, which has been in power since the 1959 revolution. The revolution was initially supported by many Cuban LGBTQ+ activists, who hoped for a more egalitarian and inclusive society. However, the early years of the socialist regime were marked by repression and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, who were seen as counter-revolutionary, bourgeois and decadent. Many LGBTQ+ people were sent to forced labor camps, known as UMAPs (Military Units to Aid Production), where they faced harsh conditions and abuse. The UMAPs were abolished in 1968, but the stigma and persecution continued for decades.

The end of homophobia

The situation began to change in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as Cuba faced an economic crisis and opened up to some social and cultural reforms. The government officially decriminalized homosexuality in 1979, but it was not until 1993 that it was removed from the list of mental disorders. In 2008, Cuba became one of the first countries in Latin America to offer free gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy to transgender people. In 2013, Cuba passed a labor law that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. In 2019, Cuba approved a new constitution that recognized the right to marriage as “the consensual union of two people, regardless of their sex” , paving the way for legalizing same-sex marriage in the future. In 2020, Cuba also allowed same-sex couples to adopt children, becoming one of the few countries in the region to do so.

Challenges and barriers of Cuban LGBTQ+ people

Despite these advances, LGBTQ+ people in Cuba still face many challenges and barriers to fully enjoy their human rights. LGBTQ+ people are often harassed, bullied and assaulted by police, state officials and civilians. LGBTQ+ activists are frequently detained, intimidated and censored by the authorities, who accuse them of being agents of foreign powers or enemies of the revolution. LGBTQ+ organizations are not legally recognized or allowed to operate independently from the state-controlled National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), which is led by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former president Raúl Castro. LGBTQ+ people also lack access to adequate health care, education and social services, especially in rural areas and marginalized communities.

The Cuban LGBTQ+ people

However, LGBTQ+ people in Cuba are also resilient, creative and diverse. They have formed networks of solidarity and support, such as Proyecto Arcoiris (Rainbow Project), Observatorio Cubano de los Derechos LGBT (Cuban Observatory of LGBT Rights) and Las Isabelas (a group of lesbian and bisexual women). They have organized cultural events, such as the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), the Havana Film Festival and the Cuban Rap Festival. They have also participated in public demonstrations, such as the Conga Cubana (a pride parade) and the Besada Colectiva (a collective kiss-in). They have expressed their identities and demands through art, music, literature and social media.

The Cuban LGBTQ+ situation

The LGBTQ+ situation on Cuba is not static or homogeneous. It is constantly evolving and changing, reflecting the contradictions and complexities of Cuban society. It is a situation that requires more dialogue, understanding and respect among all Cubans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is a situation that also calls for more solidarity and cooperation from the international community, especially from other LGBTQ+ movements in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a situation that challenges us to rethink our notions of revolution, democracy and human rights.

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