Daughter: Raul Castro backs gay rights

Daughter: Raul Castro backs gay rights

Cuban President Raul Castro backs greater gay rights and ending discrimination against homosexuals, his daughter Mariela, a famed sexologist, said Saturday during a colorful gay rights march in Havana.

Mariela Castro runs Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and is an outspoken advocate for the rights of homosexuals and transsexuals in Communist-ruled Cuba.

She is pushing for passage of legislation that would legalize same-sex unions, but stops short of endorsing gay marriage. She is hopeful that lawmakers will take up the bill sometime this year.

The president’s daughter led a colorful conga line that was part of a march through the streets of Havana attended by about 400 transvestites as part of festivities marking the Fifth Cuban Day Against Homophobia.

In January, Cuba’s Communist Party Congress resolved “to fight against all forms of discrimination, including against sexual discrimination, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity.”

Traditionally stigmatized in Cuba, homosexuality was fiercely repressed for many years by the regime, which interned homosexuals in work camps in the 1960s and ostracized them in the 1970s under the rule of Fidel Castro.

Raul Castro succeeded his brother Fidel as president in 2006.