A group of LGBTQ activists from the United States traveled to Havana, Cuba to meet with their Cuban counterparts, as well as Cuban officials, to talk about the future of LGBTQ rights on the Caribbean island. The trip was organized by Tico Almeida, the founder of Freedom To Work, and included three other activists who met with Mariela Castro, who is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Castro is the daughter of current Cuban president Raúl Castro, according the Miami Herald. Despite the positive intentions of building bridges between the LGBTQ community of the U.S. and Cuba, people remain skeptical about what the future has in store for the LGBTQ community of Cuba.
“Business leaders at our top companies like American Airlines, Google, and Facebook have helped build bridges between Americans and the Cuban people, and it’s also important for the LGBT movement in the United States to create stronger connections with the brave gay and lesbian Cubans who are petitioning their government for the freedom to marry the person they love,” Almeida told Miami Herald.
Other LGBTQ activists, like SAVE executive director Tony Lima, hoped that the group will do more than have dialogue with Cuban regime approved people. Lima posted this message to Facebook:
While it’s important to engage the Cuban people, I would be extremely concerned about creating optics that support the…
“While it’s important to engage the Cuban people, I would be extremely concerned about creating optics that support the Cuban Regime – a regime that continues to suppress its people and the people of Venezuela,” Lima wrote on Facebook. “It is telling that Cuba’s leading LGBTQ rights activist is the straight daughter (Mariela Castro) of Raul Castro. We must not forget ONE family has controlled Cuba for nearly six decades with brutal implications for LGBTQ people during the far majority of that time.”
During the meeting, there were reports of an independent LGBTQ activist being blocked by the Cuban government from attending any of the meetings. According to Washington Blade, Nelson Gandulla, the president of the Cuban Federation for LGBTI Rights, was blocked by the Cuban government from leaving the Cienfuegos Province to go to Havana in order to meet the U.S. LGBTQ activists.
As for the fate of the LGBTQ Cuban community moving forward, only time will tell if the Caribbean island government with allow marriage equality and full protections from discrimination.