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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 10, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 19
Cuba cancels annual LGBT parade
Section One
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Cuba cancels annual LGBT parade

Blames 'international context'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Cuban government has cancelled the country's 12th annual 'Conga against Homophobia and Transphobia.'

The event had been scheduled for May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia. Other LGBT events will go on as scheduled.

Cuba's National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) said in a Facebook post that the parade had been canceled because of 'new tensions in the international and regional context...' The group is led by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raúl Castro, who is the younger brother of Cuban revolutionary founder Fidel Castro, was Fidel's successor as president of Cuba, and is still First Secretary of Cuba's Communist Party.

The Conga Against Homophobia started after Raúl took over the Cuban presidency after Fidel retired. Foreign observers attributed government approval of the parade to Mariela's influence with her father.

Now there are concerns that with Raúl retired from the presidency, Cuban government policy may revert to positions less favorable to LGBT rights. Cuban LGBT activists condemned the cancellation and questioned the government's motives.

Activist Norge Espinosa Mendoza called the move 'a new step backwards.'

'The enemies of a more diverse and progressive Cuba will be happier now,' he wrote on Facebook. 'Not allowing [the parade] is a signal that...we are not welcome.'

Referring to anti-LGBT rallies staged by Cuban Christian groups, Isabel Díaz Torres told the Reuters news agency that the government could be 'once more ceding to pressure from religious fundamentalism that has shown itself to be quite active recently.'

New Facebook groups have been set up calling for people to 'march for our rights.'

According to CENESEX, it was officially canceling the Conga against Homophobia and Transphobia 'in compliance with the policy of the Party, the State, and the Revolution.'

Last year, Cuba was apparently moving to legalize same-sex marriage in its new constitution but removed the clause after protests by Catholic and evangelical religious groups.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel publicly backed marriage equality last September, saying it was 'part of eliminating any type of discrimination in society' but eventually backed down.

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