Cuba’s likely successor to Castro brothers’ legacy “defended” gay club

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With the Castro dynasty in Cuban politics gradually nearing an end, their likely successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel, has been shown to be a champion of LGBT equality, especially at a time in the country when such views were not popular.

Fidel Castro, 86, left office in 2008 due to illness. His brother Raul, 81, took over the presidency but has announced that, following re-election in February, this would be his last term. Mr Diaz-Canel was appointed Raul Castro’s Vice-President and second in command, a good indication that he will become the first ‘outsider’ to lead Cuba in over 50 years.  

Diaz-Canel is expected to be charged with bringing about economic reform in the country, within the confines of communism. His approach to social issues is said to be unwavering however, adopting a pro-LGBT stance before it became the norm. 

Ramon Silverio opened Cuba’s most popular gay club over 20 years ago. ‘El Mejunje’ (The Mixture) was subject to opposition and protests in its initial stages. Its owner says that without Mr Diaz-Canel, the club may not have lasted to this day. 

“I think this place is an example of his broad mind and forward-thinking. He defended it against protests,” Silverio told BBC News. 

The Vice-President’s backing of a club which catered itself toward “anyone different” was contrary to the feeling in communist Cuba at the time. 

Some liberalization has subsequently taken place in the country regarding LGBT rights. Adela Hernandez last year became the first transgender person to be elected to Cuban public office. 

However, equal marriage remains banned by the Constitution of Cuba. In addition, alternatives to marriage such as civil unions have not yet been legislated for, failing to pass the country’s Parliament. 

429Magazine

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