Cuba Marks Gay Rights Advances, But Same-Sex Marriage Remains Distant

Published: May 11, 2014

HAVANA, May 10 (Reuters) – Several hundred Cubans danced to a conga beat, waved the rainbow flag and proclaimed their same-sex love on Saturday, celebrating great advances in gay rights while patiently waiting for the still politically distant right to marriage.

About 500 people marched in the seventh annual parade against homophobia through Havana’s Vedado district, where cross-dressing dancers and hand-holding same-sex couples, joined by dozens of foreign visitors, clamored for greater social acceptance.

Cuba has approved sex-change operations and banned workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people in recent years, but it has yet to legalize same-sex marriage or even civil unions.

Some public attitudes changed when Fidel Castro admitted in 2010, two years after stepping down from the presidency, that he had been wrong to discriminate against homosexuals, who were sent to labor camps in the early years of after the 1959 revolution.

"Even though there is a revolution, the consciousness has not changed fast enough among many revolutionaries," said Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro and Cuba’s most prominent advocate for LGBT rights.

"I’d like it to be faster, but I don’t lose hope. I am going to celebrate with great happiness the day that same-sex couples can start to get married," she told Reuters at the conclusion of the event.

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