The Cuban League Against AIDS Report of Human Rights Violations to the LGBT Community in Cuba / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

Havana Cuba, Thursday, February 16, 2012.

General Report of the Cuban League Against AIDS on Human Rights violations to the community of Lesbians, Gays,Bisexuals and Transgenders.

It has been five decades from that fatal triumph led by people wearing olive green clothes coming down from the mountains, and proclaiming a society of equality for all, without discrimination by race, religion, political and sexual orientations.

Not many years went on before the first exclusions of all Cubans who had a sexual behavior — defined by the emerging government as embarrassing and as a way of life that endangered the socialist morality of the Cuban nation — started to be seen in workplaces, educational and state institutions.

Our people lived through years of confinement, forced labor camps, repudiation acts, and as if that was not enough, in many cases, some were stoned and forced to go into exile, separating them from their families and friends.

Cuban history contains the anecdotes and the suffering of Reinaldo Arena, Virgilio P., Lezama, and those others whose names remain forgotten and whose bodies are found in the waters between the Florida straits and the Cuban shores.

Fifty years later history repeats itself, and the violations of human rights continue targeting the LGBT community in Cuba. The rulers have been changing the ways in which they commit   these violations, but when you start analyzing the situation that the LGBT community faces, you see that it is the same.

The lack of public spaces, freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to have a relationship and marry in equality of rights, and the right to decide the appropriate moment to tell their families about their sexual orientation are some of the violations that the LGBT community in Cuba is constantly facing.

While the State institutions like the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) run by Mrs. Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of the current ruler of the nation, speak to the world about the certain openings that guarantee human rights for the LGBT community, the reality of the island is completely different; one that she would not hesitate to silence because of her fear of losing the large amounts of money collected for ghost projects that only respond to the interests of the Cuban State and not to those of the LGBT Cuban community.

There are daily reports on the island of the arrests of LGBT people, accompanied by heavy fines, deportations for homosexuals that are not from Havana, extortion and blackmailing by the police authorities or the law enforcement officers who want to benefit from the suffering of those who fall into their hands. There are also beatings, temporary detentions, searches in public places, among other actions of arbitrary nature.

There is evidence, from 2010, of layoffs based on the employee’s sexual orientation, layoffs of members of the LGBT community because they are following the government’s political ideology or simply because they are friends with someone who was a LGBT rights activist.

Violence caused the death of six homosexuals who died under an unknown situation. The death of a young transvestite from negligence and inattention in a police station was denounced, as well as the layoff of a transsexual woman, Wendy Iriepa Díaz, for marrying a human rights activist, and the arrests of homosexuals in public places and the removal of homosexual from the streets for supposedly harassing tourists.

We must continue denouncing the unjust prison sentences, from two to four years and the forced labor fields, for homosexuals because they are wandering around at night in the streets of Cuba, or drinking alcohol, or have decided no to work for the Cuba State because their families support them from abroad.

“Cuba is a country where the authorities are not prepared to confront radical changes like same sex marriage, adoption, and coexistence.” While the government gives this explanations, we Cubans wonder: how did they come up with this criteria? When we go out into the street, people smile at us and compliment us, not because of our sexual orientation, but because of what we stand for.

The true guilty people for the constant violations that the Cuban LGBT community faces are the State and its institutions, the real homophobic and discriminatory weapons. There is no power or people more discriminatory in this nation than its rulers.

The rise of male prostitution, within the community of men who have sex with other men, has resulted in 8 out of 10 of those infected with HIV being men, which is the largest number ever reached in the history of this community.

Despite totalitarianism, despite the fierce power of the State, the Cuban LGBT community now rises and emerges from the ashes, like a phoenix, showing a beautiful plumage and the colors of our unique flag demanding and recovering all the places usurped by the State power and the lies.

Today we demand our rights, we want to walk as a nation, as an independent community, as a community that advocates for the rights of all and not the rights of the minority in power.

The reason for our existence is to fight for the civil, political, economic and cultural rights of the LGBT community in Cuba. Our voice today demands to be heard and we want shout out that we exist and we are working to find a solution and looking forward to the future.

Ignacio Estrada Cepero
Executive Director
Cuban League Against AIDS

Posted originally on: February 17, 2012