The Market of Silence / Yoani Sánchez

Teenagers executed in Iran in 2005 for homosexuality. Image from

I still can’t believe that the Cuban delegation at the United Nations added its vote to a group of “countries that include homosexuality as a crime under the law, including the application of capital punishment for that reason, in five of them.” I didn’t invent the quoted phrase, it comes from a statement published by CENESEX (The National Center of Sex Education) to try to explain this absurdity, to justify the abominable. On a peculiar list, where some of the great suppressors of individual liberties appear, this Island also appears, despite the official discourse that has assured us for some time that abuse of homosexuals is chapter from the past.

It goes without saying that no one consulted Cubans before ratifying — in our name — a resolution that gives carte blanche to the death penalty for reasons of the victims’ sexual orientation. Not a single word is said by the official press, no transvestites have been able to go out and protest in the Plaza of the Revolution or in front of the Foreign Ministry to demonstrate their displeasure with this act of political expediency. Initially, it was the Benin delegation that pushed for a change in the resolution about extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in the world, a change that as a result of which — as of two weeks ago — the UN resolution will no longer apply if the accused is subject to execution for loving a person of their own gender. Frightened, we witness the circle joined by the intolerant, the complicity established between the doctrinaire, the silence before violations committed by others, to buy silence for when they themselves will have need of it.

It is sad that an institution like CENESEX, that has worked to promote respect for diversity, engages in verbal acrobatics so as not to call things by their name. Mariela Castro, Director of CENESEX, cannot take cover behind the terse words of a statement where one finds no condemnation proportional to the mistake committed by our delegation to the UN. This coming Sunday she will appear on a national television show, Journeys to the Unknown, to present a documentary that touches on the theme of tolerance towards gays and lesbians. I think that would be a good time to explain to us why her response has not been stronger, why her silence has the ring of an accomplice.

December 1, 2010