Cuban president Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, led hundreds in a pro-LGBT rights march in Havana over the weekend.
The feminist and LGBT-activist is the head of Cuba’s National Sexual Education Centre, who organized the march that took place along the main streets of the country’s capital.
The march was peaceful and seemed more like a pride celebration as demonstrators carried rainbow signs, sang and formed a conga line as they shouted pro-LGBT phrases.
Mariela, who is also the niece of Fidel Castro, recently visited the United States to receive an award for her achievements on behalf of the LGBT community.
Mariela has helped with organizations raising awareness and funds for HIV and AIDs. In 2005, she proposed a project that would better educate transgender people about treatment options for sex reassignment surgery, as well as allow for individuals to legally change their gender on documents and identification in Cuba. In 2008, the initiative became law.
Mariela says that the march is one of many steps towards hopefully legalizing same-sex marriage in Cuba. Argentina legalized such unions in 2010, and Uruguay became the 12the country to do so just recently.
Back in the 1960s and 70s, same-sex marriages were not only considered illegal, but could one’s identity as LGBT could lead to job termination, being sent to a re-education camp, or even sent to jail. Fidel Castro has publicly admitted to being one of the people who added fuel to the fire of gays being persecuted in Cuba. In 1979, homosexuality itself was legalized.