The Government Invokes “International Tensions” to Cancel the Annual Conga Against Homophobia

The conga had become one of the fixed events of the program of activities against homophobia. (EFE/Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 7, 2019 — The National Center of Sex Education (Cenesex) announced this Monday that the conga against homophobia that is organized every year was canceled “by order“ of the Minister of Public Health.

The communication of the institution, headed by deputy Mariela Castro, justifies the decision by some “determined circumstances that are not helping successful development,” neither in Havana nor in Camagüey, where the marches were programmed for May 11 and 17, respectively.

“New tensions in the international and regional context directly and indirectly affect our country and have tangible and intangible impacts on the normal development of our daily lives and the implementation of the Cuban State’s policies,” said the note about the ministry’s reasons, which were published on Cenesex’ Facebook page.

According to Cenesex, this change in the program doesn‘t mean the suspension of the rest of the planned activities, like the academic forums.

The conga has taken place since the beginning of these celebrations, which now are 12 years old, always in the context of the Cuban Day against Homophobia, held in May.

The LGBT activist and official journalist, Francisco Rodríguez, known also for his blog Paquito el de Cuba, responded to the abrupt cancellation with a post entitled La Conga va pro dentro o Nadie nos quito la bailado y por bailar (The Conga will happen inside or No one takes away the dancers and our right to dance), in which he requests that “such a setback“ not spoil the party.

“The conga burst upon the scene as the initial activity of the first days, and its percormance has become a whole tradition, as the main moment of visibility for LGBT people in Cuba,” he said.

The announcement of the cancellation sparked reactions on the activist social networks of the LGBT community.

The independent journalist and director of the digital magazine Tremenda Nota, Maykel González Vivero, lamented the briefness of the note and the fact that it ”doesn’t offer a clear argument” for the cancellation.

The activist and general coordinator of the Alianza Afro-Cubana, Raúl Soublett López, wonders why they didn’t cancel the May 1 parade and sees an excuse in the allusion to international tensions because “they’ve always been the order of the day,” he adds.

For his part, the activist Adiel González Maimó wonders if the measure is the result of  pressure brought by the religious community against equal marriage rights. “What happened? Did the fundamentalists get afraid?” he asks. “This is unforgivable, a lack of respect. I don’t understand why they didn’t also suspend the May 1 march. . . . It‘s for this reason that LGBT activism in Cuba can’t be linked anymore with the State. It can’t be.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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