Castro’s daughter sponsors blessing of Cuban gay couples

The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro sponsored a blessing ceremony Saturday for gay couples on an island where gay marriage remains illegal.

Nearly two dozen gay couples held hands or embraced, some crying, as Protestant clergymen from the U.S. and Canada blessed them as part of official ceremonies leading up to the Global Day against Homophobia on May 17.

Castro’s daughter Mariela heads Cuba’s Center for Sex Education, which has been pushing for gay rights in a country with a history of persecuting homosexuals.

While she was careful not to call Saturday’s ceremony a wedding, the event had most of the trappings of matrimony.

Luis Enrique Mederos and his partner for 14 years, Alain Morales, approached clergyman including Troy Perry, founder of Los Angeles’ gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, and held hands beneath a canopy while the pastors blessed their relationship.

“It’s a step to strengthen our relationship because we’re both religious, believers,” said Mederos, a 47-year-old graphic designer. He said he saw the ceremony as an important step toward the eventual legalization of gay marriage in Cuba.

“It’s a dream for the Cuban gay and transgender community that one day it won’t be just a symbolic and we can get married, because we’re also part of this changing world,” he said, embracing Morales, 38.

Uruguay, Argentina and a string of U.S. states, along with several in Mexico, have legalized gay marriage or civil unions.”

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Whoo hoo! Well done Mariela!  Congratulations to all the couples!!!! 

Photo: Desmond Boylan / AP 

Cuba: Mariela Castro leads LGBT March

By Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade

LAS TUNAS, Cuba — The daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro on Saturday led a march through the provincial city of Las Tunas to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Mariela Castro Espín, who directs the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX), was among those who held a giant Pride flag as they and hundreds of others walked towards the city’s main square.

Marchers chanted “Yes to Socialism, no to homophobia,” and other slogans that included “rights to all people” and “Las Tunas is present.” Members of Colmanita de Balcón, a group of young dancers and singers from Las Tunas, also took part in the march alongside a number of stilt walkers holding Pride flags and a group of local residents who covered themselves with a clay-like substance.

Two activists, including a member of CENESEX’s Network of Young People for Health and Sexual Rights (Red de Jóvenes por la Salud y los Derechos Sexuales in Spanish) at the end of the march placed a wreath of flowers and palm fronds from the organization under a statue of Vicente García, a leading figure in the 10 Years’ War from 1868-1878 during which Cubans fought for independence from Spain, that noted its events commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.