Saturday, October 25, 2014

Where the Rainbow Starts

Cuba: Where the Rainbow Starts
October 23, 2014
Luis Rondon Paz

HAVANA TIMES — In the course of Cuban history, political leaders have
mocked sexual minorities. The medical and religious establishments
labeled them sick and depraved beings, and, during the sixties, they
were dubbed as weak and counterrevolutionary. It is indeed regrettable
that today, after it's been scientifically proven that none of the above
is true, these minorities should continue to be considered inferior by
Cuba's socialist constitution and law.

Some months ago, I wrote an article for Havana Times briefly analyzing
Cuba's current constitution and roughly outlined how it had stagnated
and continued to deny sexual minorities social justice.

Sometime later, there were several developments in my country: the Cuban
parliament approved a labor code that was equitable in terms of sexual
diversity. The International Congress of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and
Transsexuals (ILGALAC) was held in Varadero. It was a huge event for the
country. To think that, twenty years before, it would have been
unthinkable in Cuba, or any other country in Latin America for that
matter, to host a gathering of this nature.

During the "festive euphoria" that ensued, I began to think about my

We'd had eight years of the Day against Homophobia, an LGBT congress and
a non-discriminatory Labor Law. I thought that the Cuban government was
becoming better acquainted with the legal disadvantages of the LGBT
community. I was excited about the direction things seemed to be heading in.

How naïve of me. I had misread everything. The first sign of this was
how the Cuban parliament dismissed the public statements made by Cuba's
Proyecto Arcoiris ("Rainbow Project"), which questioned the legislative
processes behind the labor code for not having explicitly included the
issue of gender identity in this instrument.

The second sign was how an activist from the Arcoiris project was used
as a vehicle to inform the rest of the LGBT community about the
parliament's decision.

That was when I asked myself whether we were intentionally advancing at
a snail's pace and had any intention of moving past these cosmetic changes.

I am sick and tired of continuing to experience discrimination because
our displays of affection do not fit the hetero-normative model. It
pains me see how eight years of campaigning against homophobia have not
been enough to change the law.

I think it's time our country understood we are human beings and have
the inalienable right to be accepted as what we are, that we have
feelings, love, suffer, work and contribute to the development of Cuban

I believe it is crucial for Cuban society that schools, workplaces,
universities and government officials find out we are not inferior, that
we are courageous, fun-loving, marvelous and very intelligent people,
and that the State has the right to guarantee the same rights for us.

I don't think this state of uncertainty is healthy for the country. I
believe it is time for the government to address sexual minorities (who
also count) with positive responses. I believe it must bring about
drastic changes to the current laws.

In my personal opinion, 54 years is more than enough, and, after 8 years
of campaigns in favor of sexual diversity, if we don't see any real
political changes in the short term, we are heading towards a
cul-de-sac, where our work will not become anything other than a
highly-publicized public performance without any real political power.
We will only get discos, galas and meeting places for gay people down
this road. Imagining myself stuck in this limbo frightens me.

To prevent this, I believe we must forge alliances with different
sectors within civil society and ensure no one can author any bill
single-handedly, that such legislation is conceived by a pluralistic and
genuinely LGBT community.

I believe these are times of change, a moment in history in which the
Cuban revolution must accept that the basic presuppositions of Cuba's
political, ideological and social model are not an effective foundation
for the legal system, because they discriminate against, censor or
exclude several sectors of the country's civil society, the LGBT
community in this particular case.

Regrettably, this makes the Cuban model an elitist regime, which
guarantees constitutional rights under a hetero-normative model which
runs counter to the dialectics and development of humanity.

I believe that, if Cuba's current government learns to understand and
address the genuine demands of the LGBT community, implementing reforms
on the basis of these demands, the country will be more in step with the
image it gives the world in terms of human rights and sexual diversity.

I also believe the time has come to do something positive with real,
political consequences: decentralize the institutional mechanism that
has been used to divulge issues of sexual diversity through the mass
media in recent years, project a positive image of the LGBT community
and publicize other positive criteria that do not stem from State

In addition, I think that, at this point, we must urgently consolidate
different campaigns, implement mechanisms that encourage several forms
of activism in the public, political and social spheres. This would be
very useful if we are interested in changing the law in the short term,
as political causes serve to motivate people and create alliances. The
public campaigns would serve to convince politicians in power who aren't
entirely decided on the issue to pass legislation that gives the members
of the LGBT community the right to start a family, the right to a better
quality of life, visibility and the inalienable right to display
affection without the fear of being discriminated against over one's
sexual orientation or identity.

Source: Cuba: Where the Rainbow Starts - Havana -

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