Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cuba Considers Sweeping Gay Rights Bill

Cuba Considers Sweeping Gay Rights Bill
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: March 27, 2008 - 5:00 pm ET

(Havana) Cuban lawmakers will vote in June on a bill that would make the
country one of the world's most progressive in LGBT civil rights.

The draft legislation would make it illegal to discriminate in jobs and
housing against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transpeople. It would
recognize same-sex domestic partnerships, although not grant marriage or
adoption rights, and it would allow transsexuals to have identity cards
showing their true sex. In addition the bill would require the
government health service to pay for sex reassignment surgery.

The measure has been championed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban
president Raul Castro. She heads the government-funded National Centre
for Sex Education and has been a longtime LGBT rights advocate.

Mariela Castro said she would have liked to have had the bill include
marriage but she and LGBT leaders believed it would be met with
opposition and could jeopardize the bill.

"A lot of homosexual couples asked me to not risk delaying getting the
law passed by insisting on the word marriage," she told the BBC.

"In Cuba marriage is not as important as the family and at least this
way we can guarantee the personal and inheritance rights of homosexuals
and transsexuals."

Last month Cuba's Culture Minister Abel Prieto said that he supports gay

Gays have had a long struggle for recognition in Cuba

There are no gay clubs in Havana, although one bar does offer a weekly
"gay night".

Prior to the Castro revolution gays were regularly rounded up and
jailed. Even after the revolution many gays were sent to forced labor
camps for "re-education and rehabilitation."

The camps were abandoned in a few years but gays often were denied jobs
and in the 1980s, there were government orchestrated mass rallies
denouncing homosexuality.

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