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Cubans March Against Homophobia

posted 11 May 2013, 10:37 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 11 May 2013, 10:38 ]

Hundreds of Cubans march in Havana calling for an end to homophobia.

HAVANACUBA (MAY 11, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Hundreds of members of Cuba's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community marched through the street of Havana on Saturday (May 11) to call for an end to homophobia on the Caribbean island-nation.

The march, which began near Havana's famed sea front, was led by gay rights champion and daughter of Cuban President Raul CastroMariela Castro.

"The message for the world is that home is love, respect and inclusion by a family that is free of homophobia and transphobia. We are promoting this message to all families," she told reporters before the march began.

Mariela Castro heads Cuba's National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and is an outspoken gay rights advocate. She is reputed to have used her influence to persuade Cuba to grant certain rights to gay communities.

As the march commenced, hundreds of people, many waving rainbow-coloured flags and banners carrying slogans calling for equality, marched and danced through Havana's streets.

"Happiness, diversity, understanding," said one transvestite, who called himself "Venus".

"This is a call for all of those people who are homophobic because all people are created equally," said Chenoa, a 20-year-old transsexual.

Homosexuality was repressed in Cuba for many years under communist rule as a counter-revolutionary deviation. That policy was only relaxed in the 1980s.