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News: World

Wed 29 Jun, 2011
By Newsdesk

We are not asking for anything, we're only celebrating the fact that Cuba voted at the United Nations in favor of recognising the rights of the gay community

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Small number attend Cuba's first gay pride

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There were just a handful, but the dozen Cubans who took part in the country's first Gay Pride rally Tuesday celebrated one more step on the country's road to gay rights recognition.

"We are not asking for anything, we're only celebrating the fact that Cuba voted at the United Nations in favor of recognising the rights of the gay community," said Ignacio Estrada, one of the leaders of the Cuban Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People's Rights Watch Group.

The short march -- along the 500 meters (1,600 feet) of Prado Avenue towards the seaside boulevard, the Malecon -- took place without incident and broke up amid music and dancing under the amused eye of passers-by and tourists.

Cuba's Center for Sexual Education, directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro, celebrates a "day against homophobia" every year, but this was the first time a Gay Pride march was held in downtown Havana.

It is not an insignificant whiff of tolerance in a country in which the Communist Party singlehandedly controls the government, the media and almost all of the cash-strapped economy.

For decades under the Americas' only one-party communist government, gays faced both traditional social and government ostracism, and often tried to hide. Some wound up in prison, and many went into exile.

That began to change mainly in the past decade, with more modern official media education about gays and lesbians.

Yet, said Leannes Imbert, another director of the rights watch group, "discrimination unfortunately still exists in Cuba, we are turned down for certain jobs, and there are hassles of all other kinds as well.

"We're trying to do the real work of a revolution, to 'change what must be changed,'" said Imbert, quoting an expression made famous by Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.

Source: AFP


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