Cuba: Who’s Trying to Change the Colors of the Rainbow?
By: PostCuba Newsroom
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
[May 11, 2019. Post un-dated online.]
The current attempt to manipulate and use the LGBTI community to confront the Cuban authorities for not authorizing a march against homophobia and transphobia is not an isolated incident; there are antecedents of similar claims in the recent past that are inserted in the US policy of hostility towards Cuba.
The media construction of alleged harassment and police persecution of the members of this community has been one of the directions of these defamatory campaigns against Cuba in which U.S. citizens linked to internal counterrevolutionaries have been involved.
The visit of the American Michael Petrelis in January of this year to Cuba constitutes a clear example of this type of activities generated by the North American secret services against the Island.
Petrelis, after being warned by the immigration authorities that he had entered the country with a tourist visa to carry out activities that did not correspond to this migratory condition, something he had already done on previous occasions, approached CENESEX. There he presented himself as a person healthily interested in promoting and defending the rights of those who make up the aforementioned community, receiving friendly and cooperative treatment. This made it easier for him to move around the country and contact people freely.
Later it was shown that this was only the façade he used to approach and achieve the collaboration of this institution. [He used] deception of its officials, seeking support that would allow him to develop provocative activities and the harmful influence that he had planned to carry out within the aforementioned sector of society.
In spite of the respectful treatment and the alerts received for his violations of the terms of his stay, the American has tried to cover them with a cloak of innocence, imitating the conduct assumed by his fellow countryman, the “contractor” Alan Gross when he was caught in his illegal activities inside Cuba.
The “activist” Michael Petrelis maintains links with well-known Cuban counterrevolutionaries who receive scholarships and money from the U.S. State Department, such as Isbel Díaz Torres. Also, salaried journalists trained in Centers from which plans and actions of ideological political subversion against Cuba are planned and executed, such as Maikel González Vivero and Juana Mora Cedeño. The latter has been invited to forums of the discredited OAS, where she has launched false and infamous accusations against the Cuban government for alleged violations of human rights.
In this context, it is known that Petrelis coordinated from abroad with these stateless people provocations in front of the National Capitol, headquarters of the National Assembly of People’s Power, as well as providing them with material support for the call made on January 5 in John Lennon Park, in which the well-known counter-revolutionary Tania Bruguera participated.
Cuban immigration authorities, based on all the violations of the terms of stay committed by the American during his last trip to the island, decided to prohibit his entry into the country, and he has insisted on obtaining an answer on the reasons for this decision, which he says he does not understand and ignores in a hypocritical and dishonest manner.
There is evidence that the aforementioned Petrelis links are the organizers of the “independent” march that they intend to carry out against homophobia on May 11, 2019. This shows the enemy’s presence in this activity, which tries to manipulate the feelings of the people who make up the LGBTI community in function of spurious political interests.
Rather than defend them by pretending to use them as instruments against an inclusive and humane social project, they denigrate them, especially if their supposed “benefactors” respond to a xenophobic and homophobic foreign government like that of Donald Trump.
CENESEX-THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The original is posted by CENESEX to their FACEBOOK page.
The National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) has been a specialized institution of the Ministry of Public Health since 1988. Its mission is to contribute to the development of comprehensive sexuality education, sexual health and the recognition and guarantee of the population’s sexual rights.
In 2007, CENESEX began to observe the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and one year later, to hold the Cuban Conference against Homophobia and Transphobia, with the aim of promoting the free and responsible exercise of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to educate citizens in respect for sexual rights, always with the participation of State institutions and civil society organizations.
The twelfth edition of the conference (2019) has programmed 29 activities in two provinces of the country (Havana and Camagüey), characterized by the development of academic, community, artistic, recreational and communicational spaces. In addition, initiatives are being carried out in other territories. All this effort is carried out from the Ministry of Public Health and in coordination with the leadership of the Party and the government, in that instance.
Among the most emblematic activities of these celebrations, the conga and the artistic gala are recognized, which have remained since the beginning. This year an adjustment was reported in the program that implies the cancellation of the conga, which has had a wide repercussion that has been widely reflected in social networks.
However, the sharpening of the aggressiveness against Cuba and Venezuela, which in the case of our country has its maximum expression in the activation of Chapter III of the Helms Burton Law, has emboldened groups that, although they already existed, in recent times are trying more forcefully to distort the reality of Cuba. For that purpose, they intend to use our Conga to discredit, divide and replace the true meaning of this activity.
The Conga is not the only resource within the educational and communicational actions to sensitize and mobilize reflections in the citizenry. Those who really want to defend the days can close ranks together with Cenesex and the organizing committee of this twelfth edition, to ensure its successful development, and not join provocations or politically prejudiced attacks.
These actions are promoted fundamentally by some groups that have always been alien and even opposed to the organization of this type of events, and to the role of the public institutions that organize and defend it. Now they use what happened with the conga as a weapon against our institution, and through it, against the State, the government and the Party.
To those who, from activism or because of their sincere civic convictions, feel the logical annoyance and contrariness that motivates this change in the program, we exhort them to maintain calm, to show discipline and responsibility, in order to contribute to the better development and present and future evolution of our Days.
The political and civic maturity of our LGBTI population must prevail over any attempt to distort or sabotage what we have done together for more than a decade. Its greatest expression is the challenges and legislative advances to which we are committed since the proclamation of the new Constitution. This must be our first priority, and therefore is the theme of this and next year’s Jornadas (2019-2020): All Rights for All People under the Rewrite Happiness campaign.
We call, then, to make these Cuban Days against Homophobia and Transphobia a space for unity, in the defense of the Revolution and socialism, as the only social project that defends the true inclusion of all people.
Organizing Committee of the Cuban Days against Homophobia and Transphobia
by Francisco Rodriguez Cruz, aka, Paquito
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Almost coinciding with the celebration on December 4 of the ninth anniversary of my blog, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Association (Ilga) has just given me the surprise of posting in its official pages an interview where I am presented as a defender of human rights in Cuba.
Sometimes one is afraid of the use of terms whose political manipulation in relation to our country leads us to murky and ungratifying stories with which on many occasions they tried to tarnish, and even attack, what was done by the Cuban Revolution in terms of equality of rights and social equity.
However, it is possible and very desirable to defend human rights in Cuba, because we also have a long way to go on that essential path. To do so implies a critical stance towards what has been achieved and what we lack, and when we do it with total honesty, it means that we are uncomfortable people both for the system’s propagandists at all costs, whether out of conviction or for the safeguard of some privileges, and for the recalcitrant enemies of socialism, who disguise their not at all altruistic interests with the labels of opponents or dissidents.
And this distancing does not imply any intermediate positioning. I don’t believe in centers or neutrality. Centrism and extremism are in politics only ways of masking or procuring benefits, most of the time with motivations in the individualistic background. Like everything else in life, these are statements that may require nuances. Nothing is absolute, especially in matters of subjectivities and filiations.
As I reached 48 years of age with nothing material to safeguard, I am free to say what I think and to do what I want, with all the responsibility that I am able, based on what I feel and believe to be fairer, to contribute to the collective well-being of LGBTI people and also of my homeland in its broadest sense. It’s my very particular idea about being a militant and a communist.
That’s what the nine years of this blog are all about. Thank you, Ilga, again. I will try to be consistent with this new label that I am given and that I consider being still very big: defender of human rights in Cuba.
Here’s the video:
I am Francisco Rodríguez Cruz, also known as Paquito, from Cuba; I am a Marti follower and an author; I am a communist and gay journalist; I am a convinced and superstitious atheist; I am the father of a son whom I have adored and have been a partner for fifteen years with a seronegative man who loves me; I have been an AIDS patient since 2003 and am a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than twelve years; I am a university professor and a student of life; a follower of Cuban economic issues and a passionate devourer of universal literature; an incontinent and belligerent moderate; a friend of my friends and a compassionate friend of my enemies; often wrong and never repentant; a hardened and eternal enthusiastic optimist; alive and kicking; in short, another ordinary man who wants to share his story, opinions and desires with you…
Learn about the victory of a grandmother’s love in the voice of attorneys Anahita Sanchez and Rodolfo Echevarria.
By IPS Cuba, Feb 24, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
HAVANA: Lawyers linked to the case where a Cuban court awarded custody and care of three minors to their grandmother, a lesbian woman who lives with her partner, note that the sentence recognized in some way the union between people of the same sex.
This was expressed in an interview with IPS Cuba by lawyers Rodolfo Echevarría and Anahita Sánchez, who were in charge of the legal representation of Eumnice Violeta Cardoso, the grandmother of three children who were orphaned.
The event transcended as a victory for the community of lesbians, gays, bi, trans en intersexuales (LGBTI), which is waiting for the legalization of equal marriage and respect for other rights such as homoparental adoption.
It all began in March 2016, when Vioem Karen Díaz Cardoso, the daughter of Eumnice Violeta and mother of two girls and one boy, aged nine, eight and six respectively, died after fighting lymphatic cancer.
To determine the custody and care of the three children, the grandmother and the children’s father, Guillermo Gomez, went to court.
In October 2017, the family room of the Tribunal Municipal Popular de Boyeros, a municipality on the southern outskirts of Havana, mediated the family conflict and left custody and care in the hands of the grandmother.
The news broke last January in international news media and Internet social networks.
“In the ruling, which is the binding and obligatory part of the sentence, the court confers the guardianship and care only in favor of Eumnice. That has to be well clarified,” said Echevarría, because current local legislation does not recognize same-sex couples or homoparental families.
“Although the sentence recognizes in its first Considering the active role of Isabel (the couple of Eumnice), who is also the godmother of children, in the upbringing of minors, “he detailed.
“Nor is there any sign of “discrimination” in the sentence, that is, indirectly there is a recognition of the union between these two people, because it refers to the godmother of the children, her partner, also plays a fundamental role in the care of the three minors,” he continued.
“Perhaps that is the novelty of the sentence,” said the lawyer.
And he clarified that the father was not deprived of parental authority. “He has duties and rights also with respect to these minors,” he said.
Do we say they are lesbians?
Both jurists admitted that they had doubts about whether or not they should address the homosexuality of the grandmothers when filing the lawsuit.
“In self-consultation with my conscience, I said to myself, “Do I put all the data related to this family?” recalled Echevarría.
The lawyer was concerned that the other party might use the fact that it was a homosexual couple to allege alleged harm to children because of same-sex relationships.
“And I said to myself… why not? You have to put the patch on before the hole comes out. They are in a relationship as a couple and that doesn’t in any way affect minors,” she recalled.
“To introduce that element, she obviously had to have the consent of Eumnice Violeta. She always agreed, even asked that this information be introduced in the lawsuit,” she continued.
Attorney Sanchez described the court’s reaction on the day of the hearing as “impressive.”
“When the grandmother finished speaking, with very personal and moving experiences, the godmother stood up and explained. Everyone ended up crying, and the two of them embraced,” she shared.
“It was a very nice process, because the court didn’t have the slightest doubt that they have a relationship. But that didn’t mean that they were deprived of their rights, on the contrary,” she said.
The lawyer maintained that “the judiciary didn’t show any kind of opposition, neither in the act of appearance nor in the sentence” because of the sexual orientation of the grandmothers.
An exceptional case
The case of Eumnice arrived in April 2017 at the hands of Rodolfo and Anahita, two professionals from the Law Firm Specialized in Cassation Resources, thanks to the recommendation of a colleague who assessed the sensitivity of the problem.
“They had been given little hope, and the granting of guardianship and care to grandparents is certainly unusual,” Echevarría said, as the law states that custody should be vested in the father after the mother’s death.
However, “this is not the first case of detachment of custody and care in favor of the extended family, such as grandparents, although they have not been abundant,” said the lawyer.
Due to the very nature of the work in the law firm where they work, which handles cases from all over the country, Rodolfo and Anahita affirm that there will have been three or four similar cases in the rest of the Cuban provinces.
Nor do they believe that he is the only one in Havana, although “there are many judges who have not yet had any in their jurisdiction. Since it’s not the first, it’s not that many,” Sánchez said.
In fact, the first setback faced by the family was that the Popular Municipal Court of Old Havana, in an unusual intervention by the Attorney General’s Office, alleged a lack of competence to deal with the case and ordered its transfer to the municipality of Boyeros, where the children’s father resided.
New paths in family law
As professionals, Echevarría and Sánchez maintain that the positive solution to this case brought them great satisfaction.
“Law has to go hand in hand with these new family paths. There are reconstituted, assembled families, and there is already a recognition of the role of the extended family,” Echevarría reflected.
For the lawyer, “the right has to look at the new paradigm shifts, from a nuclear family based on the ties derived from marriage, to a family that is sustained by affection.
The family rooms today reinterpret current but outdated Cuban norms and apply international agreements signed by the country to solve family law cases, pending the postponed revision by parliament of a draft of a new Family Code to replace the one drafted in 1975. (2018)
This is a dialectical and modern Constitution, if tradition is to be broken, tradition is to be broken, because breaking tradition is also a revolutionary act. Under socialism there is no room for any kind of discrimination against humans. Love does not have sex,” stressed intellectual Miguel Barnet.
Author: Susana Antón | firstname.lastname@example.org
July 22, 2018 12:07:10
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
As part of the analysis of the Draft Constitution at the First Ordinary Session of the Ninth Legislature of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, some of the issues discussed were gender equality, marriage and family as part of Article 68.
Mariela Castro Espín, a deputy for the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, commented that with Article 68, Cuba places itself, from a perspective of comprehensive protection of people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, among the leading countries in the recognition and guarantee of human rights.
“This proposal for protection is the result of the maturity reached by the revolutionary process that legitimizes and protects social relations that materialize in various types of families, from which the State’s duty to protect them and not to discriminate against them is derived,” she said.
She expressed her agreement with the provisions of Article 68, which provides for the voluntary union of two persons with the legal capacity to do so and is based on the rights and duties of spouses.
Castro Espín submitted for the plenary’s consideration that the continuation of the text of the article should be left to legislation because it is specific and refers to the obligations of couples who choose to be mothers and fathers, in addition to the fact that it is based on the absolute equality of the duties and rights of the spouses and on the conditions that favor the achievement of their ends.
“It would result in an axiological and normative contradiction in the letter of the constitutional bill between the grounds of discrimination, sexual orientation and gender identity in Articles 39 and 40, and we would discriminate against families with gay parents in Article 68,” she added.
On the other hand, she stressed that Article 41 stipulates that the State works to create the necessary conditions to facilitate equality of citizenship and “the best way to say it is to do it”, she concluded.
For her part, the Secretary General of the Federation of Cuban Women, Teresa Amarelle Boué, commented that it is a step forward that it has been taken away that marriage is the consensual union between a man and a woman..
However, there is no mention of adoption in this Article, and this is an issue that should be left to the Family Code and that should govern what marriage and other issues will be like.
“No one can be discriminated against because of their orientation. All rights are for all people and it is up to couples who want to be mothers and fathers to decide,” said Teresa Amarelle.
On the subject, Homero Acosta commented that the concept of matrimony that has been changed has an impact on the continuation of the article because it has a vision of a single-parent family and the issues related to children have a different formulation in the article.
The issue of children is regulated in Articles 69, 70 and 72, which refer to a concept of the family. “In no way does it limit the obligation of parents, whatever marriage in which it is constituted,” he said.
Yolanda Ferrer, deputy for Pinar del Río, commented that marriage must rest on the absolute equality of the duties and rights of the spouses and the law must determine the way in which it is constituted.
“We are taking a revolutionary and very important first step. There is no justification for depriving the happiness of forming a family. We have to face prejudice and make the justice we defend inclusive,” she said.
Speaking again, Deputy Mariela Castro Espín stated that “if we consider the reproductive issue, we must be consistent in giving these guarantees to all families”.
Miguel Barnet also commented that we are entering a new era. “This is a dialectical and modern Constitution, if tradition is to be broken, tradition must be broken, because breaking tradition is also a revolutionary act and under socialism there is no room for any kind of discrimination against humans. Love doesn’t have sex,” she said.
At the conclusion of the plenary debate on the subject, the deputies agreed to leave Article 68 as it stands and to include the terms “families” throughout the Constitution.
July 21, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The first televised summaries of the debates in the committees of the National Assembly of People’s Power on future constitutional reform in Cuba confirmed Friday that the draft of the new Constitution proposes to redefine marriage as the voluntary union between two persons with legal capacity for this purpose, and incorporates the principle of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to one member of parliament, when asking for clarification on this issue, the new formulation on the matrimonial institution would be contained in article 68 of the proposal to be discussed and approved by the highest legislative body in the first ordinary session of the current legislature this weekend.
Hardly anyone escapes the fact that this amendment to the old 1976 Constitution, which reduced marriage to the bond between a man and a woman, would be the open door for later progress in the legalization of homosexual couples.
The principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – contained in another article along with several other grounds of discrimination – would also allow for the progressive incorporation of other legal norms and public policies that would protect and equalise the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in our country.
Of course, this is not the only major change, nor the only one that should interest and mobilize LGBTI people. As citizens, we have to be concerned about the fairness and complete perfection of our next law of laws, because it not only defines our sexual orientation or gender identity, neither as human beings nor as patriots.
However, we must be aware that the incorporation of a broader concept of marriage into this draft is only the first step on the road to the adoption of a new Constitution which will ensure greater legal guarantees for the specific LGBTI population.
After its approval in Parliament, this draft bill will have to go through a broad popular consultation with all citizens. This will be a deeply democratic process very similar to the one we already experienced during the debates promoted by the Communist Party of Cuba on the conceptualization of the economic and social model of socialist development. These are the bases of the strategic development plan until 2030 and the guidelines of the economic and social policy of the Revolution.
Based on the results of this consultation and on the consensus that we will be able to reach with all citizens, the National Assembly will have to consider and approve the final draft of the new constitutional text, which will be submitted to a vote by popular referendum, in order to seek its final promulgation.
So, months of hard work lie ahead. Activists and specialists, political and religious personalities, women and men of all sexual orientations and gender identities who understand justice and the revolutionary nature of this very human cause, we will have to fully attend this discussion in every neighborhood and workplace.
The fight won’t be easy. There are ideological and political positions opposed to these changes. Their representatives will do everything they can to ensure that these dreams, which are now possible and already so close, will come to nothing. Some are powers that believe they have the strength of many centuries of prejudice, stigma and taboos in their favor, which they want to impose on all of society as traditions and customs, or false natural or divine notions.
Nobody’s giving us anything. Our mission will be to offer arguments, explain experiences, transmit emotions that persuade and convince, illustrate and generate empathy, inspire and move.
Everyone should do it from their own perspective, according to their own possibilities of expression, with total honesty and frankness, without fear or shame. In every context and circumstance, let us use the language and tone that the occasion warrants. The scientific approach will be very useful, but also the intimate anecdote, the familiar and friendly reference, the hard episode of the past, the hope that already contains our best present.
Let us not rule out any recourse, provided that what is said is sincere and true, from reason or passion, and even from both. But we can’t stop speaking out. All of us, no matter if it may seem like a reiteration, or if we believe that someone has already said it before or said it better.
Nor should we think that if no one speaks out against it, there is no need to speak out in favor. If we do not say so in our meeting, perhaps in another meeting where we were not or will not be, the contrary position will appear, and there will be no one to defend this cause. Silence is not an option. Every opinion counts.
In particular, I urge LGBTI people to engage in all the spaces of debate within our reach, so that our families, work groups, and neighborhoods, know who we are and what we are worth, and why we consider this step to be just and revolutionary, even beyond our own particular well-being or benefit.
This year we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Revolution of 1868, the one that began our struggle for freedom, collective and individual. In another year 1968, a century later, the Western world was shaken up by great revolts between one of its many components, the so-called sexual revolution of those decades.
By pure chance, that is the same number that corresponded to the article that could cover marriage between two persons, regardless of their gender, in the next Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. So we can and must participate: it is our new revolution of ’68.
I am Francisco Rodriguez Cruz, also known as Paquito, from CUBA; I am a Marti follower and an author; I am a communist and gay journalist; I am a convinced and superstitious atheist; I am the father of a son whom I have adored and have been a partner for fifteen years with a seronegative man who loves me; I have been an AIDS patient since 2003 andam a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than twelve years; I am a university professor and a student of life; a follower of Cuban economic issues and a passionate devourer of universal literature; an incontinent and belligerent moderate; a friend of my friends and a compassionate friend of my enemies; often wrong and never repentant; a hardened and eternal enthusiastic optimist; alive and kicking; in short, another ordinary man who wants to share his story, opinions and desires with you…
By Lisbet Penín Matos
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Undoubtedly one of the most-discussed articles during the recently concluded first ordinary session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power was article 68, which establishes the concept of marriage between two people.
The change with respect to the current constitution is that the one approved in 1976 includes marriage as the union between a man and a woman, while the current proposal, with a revolutionary vision, does not define sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
In this regard, the press spoke with Deputy Dr. Mariela Castro Espín. She said during the discussion that this article mixes the rights proposed by the Constitution to guarantee the institution of marriage with the responsibilities of mothers and fathers.
“That is a technical question, I wanted to separate them because simply when it comes to operationalizing all this in the laws, it makes it easier to differentiate them, and also, it reproduces a reproductive or reproductivist vision of marriage.
She stated that there are unmarried people who, while others marry and are unable or unwilling to have them, hence marriage does not pursue only the reproductive end.
The director of CENESEX commented that marriage has several purposes, among them the desire, the pleasure of living together where shared responsibilities are assumed in the home. “That’s fine, but then marriage takes on another purpose, another project, which is that of the children.
“If we’re going to consider the reproductive responsibility of mother and father within marriage, then when we put all this into practice in the law, we have to guarantee the same options and possibilities to heterosexual couples, same-sex couples and people who decide to become single mothers or fathers,” she said.
Dr. Mariela Castro also mentioned that the current constitutional reform has a more inclusive vision. She described the achievement of human rights-based marriage as wonderful.
She commented that no person can be excluded or discriminated against for any reason. She also said that today Cuban society has more knowledge and can openly discuss these issues with the intention of protecting couples who wish to join together, without exclusion.
Despite its proposal, the National Assembly adopted that the article should remain unchanged, but that it would be enriched by the views of the people.
“That is a wonderful revolutionary achievement,” she said, and continued, “hopefully, when the document is submitted for analysis by the people, the majority will be able to understand the very important step we are taking in the field of human rights, in recognizing all the rights of people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, because we have had difficulty reproducing the prejudices we have learned.
She reflected that there are people in the population with their dogmas, prejudices and beliefs who consider that homosexual people are not fit, capable of being mothers and fathers.
“And I repeat what I said in committee: motherhood and fatherhood is not a gift from nature, it is not an instinct as they believe: it is a learning experience”, based on observation of other mothers and fathers.
The only difference between heterosexual and homosexual mothers and fathers is simply their sexual orientation, she said.
“There are even those who believe that homosexuality is a disease, it sticks, it will be learned. No. If it were that simple, there would be no homosexuals, because they would be heterosexuals just like their parents were.
“It is an era in which this obscurantist, manipulative and retrograde thinking is being overcome with science, with scientific knowledge, inspired by the humanist spirit and based on the interest of the Cuban State in advancing the human rights agenda,” she concluded.
To make up Cuba, all the people contribute to and contribute to social and economic transformations.
This is an intentional and tempered draft project in the sense of the historical moment with the aim of guaranteeing more rights, more inclusion, independence, sovereignty and equality.
By Luis Ángel Adán Roble
Posted: 22 Jul 2018 09:59 PM PDT
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
August 8, 2017
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Cuban deputies received an explanation of a policy of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) that has been in force for a year or two to accept and place young homosexuals in military service, respecting their right to participate in the defense of the country.
The issue arose during the work session of the National Defence Commission, which on last July 10 evaluated the results of the inscriptions in the Military Register and the incorporation of young people into active military service (SMA).
As part of the debates prior to the last ordinary session of the National Assembly of People’s Power, representatives of military institutions and members of other permanent commissions such as Health and Sport; Education, Culture, Science, Technology and the Environment; and Care for Youth, Children and Equal Rights of Women also participated in this meeting.
Although this aspect of the discussion on compliance with the SMA did not transcend any of the journalistic versions I could consult on the meeting, its approach in our Parliament is undoubtedly of great news, relevance and political and public interest for the Cuban LGBTI community.
That is why I sought information from fellow journalists there, but it was not until only a few days ago that I had access to the audio recordings of the question posed by Joaquín Lázaro Cruz Martín, a member of parliament for the municipality of Boyeros in the capital and a member of the Committee on Youth, Children and Equal Rights for Women; and the response given by Brigadier General Juan Rafael Ruiz Pérez, also a member of parliament and chairman of the Committee on National Defence.
Perhaps another time is left for the analysis of the importance of this event. I believe that both interventions deserve to be analysed. I confess as an advance that right now it is difficult for me to assess what is more important, if the fact that a deputy asked about the participation of homosexuals in the army and defended it in public; or the response of the president of the National Defence Committee, when reporting on a policy that still has obvious discriminatory features – he himself admits that it is not perfect – but that in practice it represents without doubt a qualitative leap towards the recognition of the rights of LGBTI people in Cuba.
However, many concerns and doubts remain unresolved, not only regarding the inclusion of gay soldiers in the FAR, but also regarding the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who aspire to or even become officers.
Without further ado, I transcribe the question and the answer in its entirety, with only small adjustments that I had to make to try to be faithful in the written language to the tone and intention of the speaker, to separate the ideas into sentences as brief as possible, as well as to avoid direct or colloquial references and mentions to some people present whose names I found unintelligible in the recording.
Deputy Joaquín Lázaro Cruz Martín: The other issue I have, which concerns me greatly, is exactly what would be the policy to follow, in this material specifically, with young homosexuals and bisexuals.
How it is treated, how politics is with these young people, who are not different at all in our society; that is, they deserve a place of respect too, that is their sexual preference and I do not think that this will influence at all….
Right now it’s time to add, not subtract, and we need everyone’s support. It is no secret to anyone that at the moment, as we can see that they are not being discriminated against as much as in previous times – although discrimination still exists, it is a problem that concerns us all – many more are increasingly identified…
Thank you very much.
Congressman Juan Rafael Ruiz Pérez, President of the National Defence Committee: I am going to take the floor on this last issue to explain and make it clear.
As you have heard, there is in the Armed Forces – we have known this before – a commission of the body that establishes policy for the performance of military service.
In other words, military service is in a law, the law has its regulations, but this commission is establishing policies. For example, no law says anything about the year deferred, about the boy who took a college degree. That’s a policy.
Service is two years, everyone must complete it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… Ah, but if you pass the entrance exams and get a degree, then the policy is that you must only serve one year, to interfere as little as possible in your incorporation. That’s politics.
Then, with regard to this issue raised by the companero, a policy was established and approved a year ago, perhaps two years ago, which is essentially the following:
First, no young person, because of his social preference (sic) is excluded from being able to fulfill his preparation for the defense of his country.
Second, if that young man is called, but he considers that for this reason, he will not be able to perform his service in the conditions of a military place, he is excluded.
And thirdly, we also try to apply a third alternative that exists, and that can allow you to comply with the first, without having to fall into the traditional, let’s say, two-year service in a military unit, in maneuvers, etc…. It can also be conducted so that the performance of your military service, and therefore of the law, does so through alternative forms.
Therefore, a young person with these characteristics is called military service, gives basic military training, if possible, and is assigned to alternative military service. Say, he can be a nurse, an auxiliary in a hospital, he can even be in a military hospital, or he can be assigned to work elsewhere.
He’s doing his service, he’s complying with the law, he’s carrying out his duty to the homeland. He may have prepared for defense, and yet he is in conditions that may be more appropriate for the situation.
Ah, no, you’re capable that even if you have your… overcome that, and keep yourself… Because also the environment can influence a lot. We’re talking about a barracks with 80 of another preference, talking about other things, saying other things… Oh, not you?… Right, you’re not called and you’re given that chance.
What happens, that sometimes this happens when they say about a case that came in and that after it was detected. Well, this is sometimes not detected, because sometimes even the person doesn’t want to say it yet….
Is it detected later? We do that. You can’t, Counselor. Yeah, you’re licensed. Any chance you’re going to finish it by alternative means in one place, according to a plan, et cetera? That’s a variant. Another variant? No, you’re going home.
That is to say, what must be clear: that is why nobody is exempted – by politics – from their right to prepare themselves to defend their homeland.
But, taking into account the existing conditions and so on…. As you say yourself, military service is not a panacea, that’s what it is, that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes and so on. No (can’t)…, well, it’s not going, now. It’s not going. It’s not a disease, it just doesn’t go, because of the conditions, it’s a possibility you give it. Or also, to go towards that other channel that can be service through alternative forms.
That is the policy that is approved, in writing, oriented towards the whole country, what happens is that these things happen, because sometimes they are not detected and can be chosen, well, then you do what you did, you know what I mean?
But the policy is approved, and this is what is being followed. Doesn’t mean it’s perfect, everything here is provisional. But the issue has already been identified, and that is what is being done.
I am Paquito, from CUBA; I am a Marti follower and a an author; I am a communist and gay journalist; I am a convinced and superstitious atheist; I am the father of a son whom I have adored and have been a partner for fifteen years with a seronegative man who loves me; I have been an AIDS patient since 2003 andam a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than twelve years; I am a university professor and a student of life; a follower of Cuban economic issues and a passionate devourer of universal literature; an incontinent and belligerent moderate; a friend of my friends and a compassionate friend of my enemies; often wrong and never repentant; a hardened and eternal enthusiastic optimist; alive and kicking; in short, another ordinary man who wants to share his story, opinions and desires with you…
By Darío Gabriel Sánchez García
Journalist and photojournalist. Professor of Photography and Audiovisual Production at the Faculty of Communication of the University of Havana.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.This Friday, the stage of the great Cuban events, the Karl Marx Theatre, was filled with people at the 11th Cuban gala against homophobia and transphobia, under the slogan “For schools without homophobia and transphobia”.
The gala featured nationally recognized international artists such as Alain Daniel, Diván, Haila, Laritza Bacallao, Migue-DECUBA, Proyecto Voces, Yotuel, as well as the dance companies Acosta Danza, Rakatán, Coro de la Escuela René Vilches, Latin Dance Ballet and Revolution.
With the presence of Roberto Morales Ojeda, Minister of Public Health, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and Vice-President of the State Council; Ena Elsa Velázquez, Minister of Higher Education; José Ramón Saborido, Minister of Higher Education and Mariela Castro Espín, Director of the National Sex Education Center (Cenesex), among other personalities, this eleventh edition is being held within the framework of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of Cenesex, an institution that since 2007 has strengthened its educational strategy to promote the full and responsible exercise of sexual rights as inherent to human beings.
Beyond the artistic display, the gala was also the occasion for the presentation of special awards by Cenesex to Carla Antonelli, and recognized LGBT rights activist who since 2011 serves as deputy of the Assembly of Madrid by the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, becoming the first and only transgender woman in Spain to accede to this position. Also honored was Mike Jackson, an English activist and one of the founders of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, a lesbian and gay organization that came together to support striking miners from 1984 to 1985 in Britain after the Thatcher government confiscated funds from that sector of the workforce.
The “In memoriam” prize was awarded to the recently deceased journalist, researcher and professor Isabel Moya Richard. From her position as director of the Women’s Publishing House, of the magazine Mujeres, and as president of the Chair of Gender and Communication at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, Isabel Moya was always a fervent defender of gender equality.