World – Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights http://www.washingtonblade.com America's Leading LGBT News Source Tue, 18 Sep 2018 19:24:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Romania’s top court approves marriage referendum http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/18/romanias-top-court-approves-marriage-referendum/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/18/romanias-top-court-approves-marriage-referendum/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 19:24:49 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48147184 Kim Davis traveled to European country in 2017

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Romania’s top court on Sept. 17, 2018, approved a referendum on whether to amend the country’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. (Photo public domain)

Romania’s top on Monday by a 7-2 vote margin approved a proposed referendum on whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Activists in the European country sharply criticized the decision.

“The referendum affects directly the status of Romanian democracy,” Vlad Viski, executive director of MozaiQ, a Romanian LGBTI advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Monday in a statement. “It leads to discrimination against the LGBT community, separating us in (sic) first class and second class citizens.”

The Coalition for Family, a group of 23 organizations that oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples, in 2015 launched a campaign in support of amending Romania’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The campaign collected 3 million signatures.

Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, traveled to Romania, which is a member of the European Union, last year with the Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTI legal group.

Rowan County (Ky.) County Clerk Kim Davis, left, traveled to Romania in 2017 to campaign in support of a referendum on whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman. (Photo courtesy of the Liberty Counsel)

Romanian Senate committees on Sept. 4 approved the proposed referendum. It received the full backing of the Romanian Senate last week.

ILGA Europe Litigation Officer Arpi Avetisyan in a statement said Romania “has a responsibility to protect all its citizens — straight and LGBTI.”

“The definition of ‘family’ put forward by the supporters of this referendum is frankly inaccurate; it only captures a very limited fraction of what family means to people in 2008,” said Avetisyan. “And it is also very out-of-step with reality and with the diversity of families being recognized by international human rights bodies and European courts.”

The referendum is scheduled to take place on Oct. 6-7.

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Cuban president backs same-sex marriage http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/17/cuban-president-backs-same-sex-marriage/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/17/cuban-president-backs-same-sex-marriage/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48064460 Referendum on new constitution to take place in 2019

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Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel (Photo public domain)

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has said he supports an amendment to his country’s new constitution that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“I defend that there should be no type of discrimination,” he told Telesur, a television station that is largely funded by the Venezuelan government, during an interview that aired on Sunday. “The will of the people and the people’s sovereignty will have the final word.”

A source in Havana told the Washington Blade the Telesur interview was broadcast on Cuban television on Sunday night.

Díaz-Canel took office in April after Cuba’s National Assembly chose him to succeed Raúl Castro.

Lawmakers in July approved the new constitution with the marriage amendment.

The Cuban government is currently holding meetings that allow members of the public to comment on the new constitution. The National Assembly later this year is expected to finalize it before a referendum that is scheduled to take place in February 2019.

The debate over whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples is taking place less than 60 years after gay men were among those sent to labor camps — known by the Spanish acronym UMAPs — after the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

Fidel Castro in 2010 apologized for the UMAPs during an interview with a Mexican newspaper. His niece, Mariela Castro, a member of the National Assembly who directs the country’s National Center for Sexual Education, over the last decade has spearheaded LGBTI-specific issues in the Communist country.

Díaz-Canel, who was born after the revolution, supported an LGBTI cultural center in the city of Santa Clara when he was secretary of the Cuban Communist Party in Villa Clara Province. Díaz-Canel also defended Mariela Castro’s doctoral thesis that focused on the integration of transgender people in Cuban society.

Independent LGBTI activists with whom the Blade regularly speaks insist they continue to face harassment and even arrest if they publicly criticize Mariela Castro and/or the Cuban government.

Presidente cubano apoya matrimonio igualitario

El presidente cubano Miguel Díaz-Canel ha dicho que apoya una enmienda a la nueva constitución de su país que extendería los derechos matrimoniales a parejas del mismo sexo.

“Yo defiendo de que no haya ningún tipo de discriminación,” dijo a Telesur, una estación de televisión que es en gran parte financiado por el gobierno venezolano, durante una entrevista que emitió el domingo. “La última palabra la dará el mandato popular y la soberanía del pueblo.

Una fuente en La Habana dijo al Washington Blade la entrevista de Telesur fue emitido en la televisión cubana el domingo por la noche.

Díaz-Canel tomó el cargo en abril después de la Asamblea Nacional de Cuba le eligió de suceder a Raúl Castro.

Legisladores en julio aprobaron la nueva constitución con la enmienda del matrimonio.

Se están realizando ahora una serie de consultas públicas que permiten al público de comentar sobre la nueva constitución. Se espera que la Asamblea Nacional a finales de este año la finalice antes de un referéndum en febrero de 2019.

Se realiza el debate sobre la extención de derechos matrimoniales a parejas del mismo sexo menos de 60 años después del encarcelamiento de hombres gay en campos de trabajo — las UMAPs — después de la revolución cubana que llevó al poder Fidel Castro, el tío de Mariela Castro.

Fidel Castro en 2010 se disculpó por las UMAPs durante una entrevista con un periódico mexicano. Su sobrina, Mariela Castro, una parlamentaria que dirige el Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual, durante la pasada década ha promovida los temas LGBTI en el país comunista.

Díaz-Canel, que nació después de la revolución, apoyaba un centro cultural LGBTI en la ciudad de Santa Clara cuando era secretario del Partido Comunista de Cuba en la provincia de Villa Clara. Díaz-Canel también defendió la tesis doctoral de Mariela Castro que enfocó sobre la integración de personas trans en la sociedad cubana.

Activistas LGBTI independientes dicen al Blade que todavía se enfrentan el maltrato y el riesgo de detención si critican a Mariela Castro y/o el gobierno cubano.

El Mejunge es un centro cultural LGBTI en Santa Clara, Cuba. El presidente Miguel Díaz-Canel apoyaba El Mejunje cuando era secretario del Partido Comunista de Cuba en la provincia de Villa Clara. (Foto de Washington Blade de Michael K. Lavers)

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Chile transgender rights bill receives final approval http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/chile-transgender-rights-bill-receives-final-approval/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/chile-transgender-rights-bill-receives-final-approval/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 20:19:21 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47706245 President Sebastián Piñera has 30 days to sign it

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The Chilean House of Deputies on Sept. 12, 2018, gave its final approval to a transgender rights bill. It now goes to President Sebastián Piñera for his signature. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill that would allow transgender people over 14 in Chile to legally change their name and gender without surgery received final approval on Wednesday.

The bill passed in the Chilean House of Deputies by a 95-46 vote margin. It now goes to President Sebastián Piñera for his signature.

“Today Chile takes a historic step forward in the inclusion of transgender identities,” tweeted Organizando Trans Diversidades, a trans advocacy group. “Let’s now erradicate transphobia in schools, on the streets and in workplaces: Today it is everyone’s responsibility to protect trans youth.”

“We were in the presence of a historic vote that we celebrate with a lot of emotion and joy because it will improve the quality of life for thousands of people who have seen their dignity and rights denied only because of prejudices based on their gender identity,” said Troncoso in a press release.

Álvaro Troncoso of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBTI advocacy group, also praised the vote.

A trans rights bill has been before Chilean lawmakers since 2013. It received renewed attention earlier this year after “A Fantastic Woman,” a Chilean film that stars trans actress Daniela Vega, won the Oscar for best foreign language film.

The Chilean Senate on Sept. 4 gave its final approval to the bill, even though the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation and other advocacy groups continue to challenge the exclusion of minors who are under 14-years-old.

Piñera, who publicly supports the bill, has 30 days to sign it.

Proyecto de ley de identidad de género en Chile recibe aprobación final

Un proyecto de ley que permitiría a personas trans mayores de 14 años en Chile de cambiar legalmente su nombre y género sin cirugía recibió aprobación final el miércoles.

El proyecto de ley fue aprobado en la Cámara de Diputados por un margen de 95-46 votos. Ahora va al presidente Sebastián Piñera por su firma.

“Hoy Chile da un paso histórico en la inclusión de identidades trans,” twiteó Organizando Trans Diversidades, un grupo trans. “Ahora, a erradicar la transfobia en escuelas, calles y trabajos: Hoy es responsabilidad de todes proteger la niñez trans.”

Álvaro Troncoso del Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual, un grupo LGBTI chileno, también aplaudió la votación.

“Estamos en presencia de un hecho histórico, que festejamos con mucha emoción y alegría porque se mejorará la calidad de vida de miles de personas que han visto postergada su dignidad y derechos solo por prejuicios en relación a la identidad de género,” dijo Troncoso en un comunicado de prensa.

Un proyecto de ley de identidad de género ha estado ante los legisladores chilenos desde 2013. Recibió nueva atención a principios de este año cuando “Una mujer fantástica,” una película chilena protagoniza por la actriz trans Daniela Vega, ganó el Oscar a la Mejor Película Extranjera.

El Senado de Chile el 4 de septiembre dio su aprobación final al proyecto de ley, aunque el Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual y otros grupos LGBTI ya continuán desafiando la exclusión de menores de 14 años.

Piñera, que está en favor del proyecto de ley, tiene 30 días de firmarlo.

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Activists in Commonwealth countries respond to India sodomy law ruling http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/activists-in-commonwealth-countries-respond-to-india-sodomy-ruling/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/activists-in-commonwealth-countries-respond-to-india-sodomy-ruling/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 15:58:47 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47675921 Colonial-era statutes being challenged in Jamaica, Barbados

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Singapore, gay news, Washington Blade

Singapore is among the Commonwealth countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. (Photo public domain)

Activists in Commonwealth nations with whom the Washington Blade spoke this week said it remains unclear whether last week’s landmark India Supreme Court ruling that struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy law will bolster efforts to decriminalize homosexuality in their own countries.

Maurice Tomlinson is a senior policy analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network who is challenging Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law. He also represents three LGBTI Barbadians who are challenging a similar statute in their country.

Tomlinson told the Washington Blade that even though the India Supreme Court ruling is not binding in other Commonwealth countries, it “will still be very persuasive.” Tomlinson also noted the India Supreme Court ruling said the country’s colonial-era sodomy law, known as Section 377, “was exported across the Commonwealth as part of the British colonizing project.”

Jamaica and Barbados, along with Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland, Mauritius, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Samoa, still have colonial-era sodomy laws that are similar to India’s Section 377.

A judge on Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court in April struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. The chief justice of the Belize Supreme Court in 2016 ruled a statute that criminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country is unconstitutional.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Kenya is challenging the country’s sodomy law.

British Prime Minister Theresa May in April said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era sodomy laws the U.K. introduced in India, which is the world’s second most-populous country, and in other Commonwealth nations. British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch in June told the Blade during an interview before he hosted a Pride month reception at the British Embassy in D.C. that Commonwealth countries that have yet to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations should do so.

“We just urge all of our friends and partners in other countries around the world to move on as we have done to make their societies more open, more liberal, to embrace anti-discrimination in relation to the LGBT community as we have,” said Darroch. “It just makes your society a better place.”

Tomlinson agreed.

“Not only has Britain apologized for imposing and exporting this law, but the constitutional rights that are violated by this egregious statute are present in most Commonwealth countries,” he told the Blade.

A State Department spokesperson told the Blade the U.S. “welcomes the decision by India’s Supreme Court on Section 377.” The U.S. Embassy in India was illuminated in rainbow colors last week to celebrate the ruling.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the U.N.’s LGBTI rights watchdog, praised the ruling. He also urged countries that have yet to repeal their sodomy laws to do so.

“It is my sincere hope that, today, all other countries that still criminalize homosexuality and other forms of sexual orientation and gender identity, will carefully examine this ruling and decide that the time has come to bring themselves to full compliance with this human rights imperative,” he said.

Singapore faces ‘no real surrounding pressure’ to repeal sodomy law

The Delhi High Court in 2009 struck down Section 377, but the India Supreme Court in 2013 overruled the ruling. Indian lawmakers in 2015 rejected a bill that would have repealed 377.

Jean Chong, co-founder of Savoni, an organization for queer women in Singapore, told the Blade on Tuesday during a Skype interview the India ruling has sparked “a great deal of excitement” among advocates in her country.

Chong pointed out Singapore’s penal code since 1997 has only criminalized consensual sexual relations between two people of the same-sex. Chong told the Blade the Singapore government will likely ignore calls from the U.K., the U.S. and the U.N. to repeal the country’s sodomy law, in part, because Malaysia and other neighboring countries, such as Brunei, have not done so.

Two women who were convicted of having sex in a car were publicly caned in a Sharia court in the Malaysian state of Terengganu on Sept. 3. Those who are convicted of homosexuality in Brunei face the death penalty under the country’s penal code.

Advocates also continue to express concern over the ongoing anti-LGBTI crackdown in Indonesia, which is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

“If we look at our region, there is no real surrounding pressure to do the same,” Chong told the Blade, referring to Singapore and calls to repeal the country’s sodomy law.

Botswana activist optimistic country will repeal sodomy law

Kat Kai Kol-Kes, a transgender rights advocate in Botswana who contributes to the Blade, on Monday said the India Supreme Court ruling “has been received with some jubilation” in her country.

“But I recognize that it seems distant to the greater LGBT+ population in Botswana,” she added.

Batswana LGBTI rights advocates in recent years have celebrated a number of legal victories.

The country’s highest court in 2016 ruled Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, an LGBTI advocacy group, should be allowed to register with the government of Botswana. Kol-Kes reported a court last November ruled in favor of a trans man who wanted to change the gender marker on his documents.

Botswana in 2016 deported Steven Anderson, an anti-LGBTI pastor from the U.S., after he told a radio station the government should kill gays and lesbians and described the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre as “disgusting homosexuals who the Bible says were worthy of death.”

Kol-Kes told the Blade that LGBTI Batswana “aren’t quite living in isolation from the rest of the Commonwealth LGBT+ populations.” She nevertheless added their reaction to the India Supreme Court has been tempered somewhat, in part, because the country is preparing for elections that will take place next year.

“We still have a ways to go, but I think we are well on our way to seeing Botswana achieve what India did in 2009 without the 2013 hiccup,” said Kol-Kes, referring to India. “I face the 2018 ruling with hope that history won’t repeat itself and that LGBT+ people of India can map their lives without looking over their shoulders in case they are used as political pawns.”

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Vocal LGBTI rights opponent named Colombia’s ambassador to OAS http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/10/vocal-lgbti-rights-opponent-named-colombias-ambassador-to-oas/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/10/vocal-lgbti-rights-opponent-named-colombias-ambassador-to-oas/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 23:02:46 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47581658 Alejandro Ordóñez fought same-sex marriage efforts

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Colombian President Iván Duque has named a vocal LGBTI rights opponent as his country’s next ambassador to the Organization of American States. Activists across the country have sharply criticized his decision. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Colombian President Iván Duque’s decision to name a vocal LGBTI rights opponent as his country’s ambassador to the Organization of American States has sparked outrage among activists.

Former Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez has, among other things, challenged efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples and criticized then-Education Minister Gina Parody, who is a lesbian, in 2016 over a proposed handbook that would have contained recommendations on how teachers and school administrators should respond to LGBTI-specific issues. Duque’s government on Aug. 24 confirmed it named Ordóñez as Colombia’s next OAS ambassador.

Colombia Diversa and Caribe Afirmativo, two Colombian LGBTI advocacy groups, signed an open letter to Duque that criticizes Ordóñez’s appointment.

The letter notes Ordóñez was “unable to separate his personal beliefs and opinions from the exercise of his public position” when he was inspector general. It also says Ordóñez “used the power of the state to persecute minorities and those who differed from his ideology.”

Caribe Afirmativo, which is based in the city of Barranquilla in northern Colombia, launched a Change.org petition that urges Duque to rescind Ordóñez’s appointment. More than 245,000 people have thus far signed it.

Mauricio Toro, a gay member of the center-left Green Alliance from the Colombian capital of Bogotá who was elected to the country’s Congress in March, described Ordóñez’s appointment is “a slap in the face to the Colombian and American people.”

“Alejandro Ordóñez has violated the rights of minorities, has violated equal rights,” Toro told the Washington Blade last week during a WhatsApp interview. “He opposed an anti-discrimination law in Colombia that defends LGBTI communities, communities of African descent, indigenous people, Raizales, people with disabilities. He also openly discriminates against minorities in his speeches and actions.”

Duque, a member of former President Álvaro Uribe’s right-wing Democratic Center party, took office last month after he defeated former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro in the second-round of Colombia’s presidential election that took place in June.

Ordóñez was among the candidates who sought to succeed former President Juan Manuel Santos, who signed an LGBTI-inclusive peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 2016. Ordóñez, who opposes the peace agreement, endorsed Duque in March after members of his party formally chose the current president to run against Petro.

Hunter T. Carter, a lawyer who represents plaintiffs in same-sex marriage cases throughout Latin America, last week noted the OAS and specifically the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in recent years have become increasingly vocal champions of LGBTI rights. Carter, who lives part-time in the city of Medellín with his husband, told the Blade that Ordóñez’s appointment could put this support in jeopardy.

“I am seriously concerned about what this may mean for the protection of human rights through the Inter-American system overseen by the OAS,” said Carter.

The Blade has reached out to the Colombian government for comment.

Caribe Afirmativo es un grupo LGBTI en el norte de Colombia que está en favor de los acuerdos de paz entre el gobierno y las FARC. La organización ha criticado al presidente Iván Duque sobre su nombramiento de un vocal opositor de derechos LGBTI como embajador en la OEA. (Foto del Washington Blade por Michael K. Lavers)

Opositor de derechos LGBTI nombra embajador de Colombia ante la OEA

La decisión del presidente colombiano Iván Duque de nombrar a un vocal opositor de los derechos LGBTI como el embajador de su país ante la Organización de Estados Americanos ha provocado indignación entre activistas.

El exprocurador general Alejandro Ordóñez ha, entre otras cosas, luchó contra los esfuerzos para extender los derechos matrimoniales a parejas del mismo sexo y criticó a la exministra de Educación Gina Parody, que es una lesbiana, en 2016 sobre un manual propuesto que habría contenido recomendaciones sobre cómo los maestros y administradores escolares deberían responder a los temas LGBTI. El gobierno de Duque el 24 de agosto confirmó que nombró a Ordóñez como el nuevo embajador de Colombia ante la OEA.

Colombia Diversa y Caribe Afirmativo, dos grupos LGBTI colombianos, firmaron una carta abierta a Duque que critica el nombramiento de Ordóñez.

La carta nota que Ordóñez “no fue capaz de separar sus creencias y opiniones personales del ejercicio de su cargo público” cuando era procurador general. También dice que Ordóñez “usó el poder del Estado para perseguir a minorías y a quienes diferían de su ideología.”

Caribe Afirmativo, que tiene su sede en la ciudad de Barranquilla en el norte de Colombia, lanzó una petición de Change.org que insta a Duque de rescindir el nombramiento de Ordóñez. Hasta ahora, más de 245,000 personas la ha firmado.

Mauricio Toro, un miembro gay de la Alianza Verde, un partido del centroizquierda que fue elegido al Congreso colombiano el marzo, describió el nombramiento de Ordóñez como “una bofetada al pueblo colombiano y americano.”

“Alejandro Ordóñez ha violentado los derechos de las minorías, ha vulnerado los derechos de la igualdad,” Toro, que representa porciones de la capital colombiana de Bogotá, dijo al Washington Blade la semana pasada durante una entrevista de WhatsApp. “Se opuso a la ley antidiscriminación en Colombia que defiende a las comunidades LGBTI, a las comunidades afro, indígenas, raizales, personas con discapacidad. Ademas en sus discursos, y acciones discrimina a las minorías abiertamente.”

Duque, un miembro del partido centroderecho Centro Democrático del expresidente Álvaro Uribo, tomó posesión del cargo el pasado mes después de vencer al exalcalde de Bogotá Gustavo Petro en la segunda vuelta de la elección presidencial colombiana que se celebró en junio.

Ordóñez estaba entre los candidatos que buscaba suceder al expresidente Juan Manuel Santos, que firmó los acuerdos de paz con las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia en 2016 que incluyen la comunidad LGBTI. Ordóñez, que está en contra de los acuerdos de paz, endorsó a Duque en marzo después de miembros de su partido nombraron formalmente al actual presidente de ser candidato contra Petro.

Hunter T. Carter, un abogado que representa demandantes en casos del matrimonio igualitario por América Latina, nota la semana pasada que la OEA y específicamente la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos durante los últimos años se han convertido en campeones vocales de los derechos LGBTI. Carter, que vive a tiempo parcial en la ciudad de Medellín con su esposo, dijo al Blade que el nombramiento de Ordóñez podría poner en peligro este apoyo.

“Estoy seriamente preocupado por lo que esto puede significar para la protección de los derechos humanos a través del sistema interamericano supervisado por la OEA,” dijo Carter.

El Blade se ha comunicado con el gobierno colombiano para comentar.

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Nuevo programa de radio estadounidense enfoca en temas LGBT en Cuba http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/10/nuevo-programa-de-radio-estadounidense-enfoca-temas-lgbt-en-cuba/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/10/nuevo-programa-de-radio-estadounidense-enfoca-temas-lgbt-en-cuba/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 16:52:51 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47562537 Joe Cardona es presentador de 'Arcoíris' en Radio Martí

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Joe Cardona es el presentador de “Arcoíris,” un nuevo programa en Radio Martí con un enfoque en los temas LGBT en Cuba. (Foto cortesía de Joe Cardona)

Una estación de radio del gobierno estadounidense que transmite a Cuba ha lanzado un programa con un enfoque en los temas LGBT en la isla comunista.

“Arcoíris” se transmitó por primera vez en Radio Martí el 28 de julio.

El programa se transmite cada sábado y domingo entre las 4-5 pm. Joe Cardona, un cineasta cubanoamericano y aliado que dirigió “The Day It Snowed in Miami,” un documental sobre la campaña de Anita Bryant en contra de la ordenanza de derechos gay del Condado Dade en 1977, presenta “Arcoíris.”

Nelson Gandulla Díaz, fundador de la Fundación Cubana por los Derechos LGBTI, un grupo LGBT independiente, apareció en “Arcoíris” el 25 de agosto. Gandulla, un fuerte crítico de Mariela Castro, la hija del expresidente cubano Raúl Castro que promueve los temas LGBT en Cuba como directora del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX), habló con Cardona desde España donde ha pedido asilo.

“Arcoíris” el 1 de septiembre enfocó las experiencias de prisioneros gay en Cuba. Ignacio Estrada Cepero, fundador de la Liga Cubana contra la SIDA que ahora vive en Miami con su esposa, Wendy Iriepa Díaz, una mujer trans que una vez trabajó para CENESEX, también ha aparecido en el programa.

La familia de Cardona es originaria de La Habana y la Provincia de Matanzas. El dijo al Washington Blade el pasado mes durante una entrevista telefónica desde Miami que su programa “todo es de llevar los temas LGBT al público en Cuba.”

Activistas LGBT cubanoamericanos en el sur de Florida han aplaudido el programa.

“Arcoíris” es una ventaja importante al mundo alrededor para la comunidad LGBTQ cubana,” dijo Tony Lima, director ejecutivo de SAVE, en un comunicado de prensa de Radio Martí.

Presentador del programa ‘mira más allá’ de Mariela Castro

“Arcoíris” debutó casi tres meses después del presidente cubano Miguel Díaz-Canel tomó posesión del cargo. También empezó transmitirse contra el contexto del debate sobre la nueva constitución del país con una enmienda que extendería los derechos matrimoniales a parejas del mismo sexo.

Se están realizando ahora una serie de consultas públicas que permiten al público de comentar sobre la nueva constitución. Se espera que la Asamblea Nacional a finales de este año la finalice antes de un referéndum en febrero de 2019.

El debate, que incluye oposición pública de iglesias evangélicas, se está realizando menos de 60 años después del encarcelamiento de hombres gay en campos de trabajo — las UMAPs — después de la revolución cubana que llevó al poder Fidel Castro, el tío de Mariela Castro.

Partidarios de Mariela Castro, entre otras cosas, notan que Cuba ahora ofrece cirugías de reasignación de sexo gratuitas por su sistema nacional de salud. Gandulla y otros activistas LGBT independientes en Cuba dicen que confrontan el maltrato e incluso a la detención si critican públicamente a Mariela Castro, que es parlamentaria, o el gobierno cubano.

“Casi miro más allá de Mariela Castro,” Cardona dijo al Blade. “Miro a CENESEX como otro apparatchik del gobierno.”

El Mejunje es un centro cultural LGBT en Santa Clara, Cuba. Se realizó una marcha para conmemorar el Día Internacional contra la Homofobia, la Transfobia y la Bifobia en la ciudad el 15 de mayo de 2018. (Foto del Washington Blade por Michael K. Lavers)

Gobierno cubano es fuerte crítico de Radio Martí

Radio Martí empezo de transmitir a Cuba en 1985.

La Oficina de Transmisiones a Cuba en Miami, que es parte de la Agencia de Información Internacional de EEUU, funde Radio Martí y Televisión Martí. Los dos Martí tienen un presupuesto combinado de $28.1 millón.

El gobierno cubano ha criticado fuertemente Radio Martí y Televisión Martí.

El Miami New Times el pasado mes reportó que menos de 10 por ciento de cubanos escuchan a transmisiones de Radio Martí y menos de un por ciento de cubanos miran programas de Televisión Martí, en parte, porque el gobierno cubano ha podido bloquearlos para que no lleguen a la isla. Los críticos continúan instando al gobierno federal a que disminuya su financiamiento de Radio Martí y Televisión Martí.

Un acuerdo de 2014 entre el gobierno cubano y la administración de Obama para normalizar las relaciones diplomáticas entre La Habana y Washington incluyó acceso ampliado al internet en Cuba.

El presidente Trump el año pasado reimpuso restricciones de viaje y comercio con Cuba, aunque su empresa y varios de sus asociados han violado el bloqueo estadounidense contra la isla comunista. Acceso al internet en Cuba sigue limitado y costoso, aunque ahora hay más de 700 hotspots de WiFi públicos por todo el país y un programa piloto de la empresa estatal de telecomunicaciones de Cuba permite a los cubanos de tener conexiones de internet en sus hogares.

“No soy el tipo que prohíbe a nadie viajar allí,” Cardona dijo al Blade el viernes desde Miami. “Obviamente lo aliento, pero le digo a la gente, ve allí con los ojos abiertos.”

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New U.S. government radio program highlights LGBTI issues in Cuba http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/07/new-u-s-government-radio-program-highlights-lgbti-issues-in-cuba/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/07/new-u-s-government-radio-program-highlights-lgbti-issues-in-cuba/#respond Fri, 07 Sep 2018 17:04:39 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47413271 Filmmaker hosts 'Arcoíris' on Radio Martí

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Joe Cardona hosts “Arcoíris,” program on Radio Martí that highlights LGBTI issues in Cuba. (Photo courtesy of Joe Cardona)

A U.S. government radio station that broadcasts into Cuba has launched a program that focuses on LGBTI-specific issues on the Communist island.

“Arcoíris,” which means “rainbow” in Spanish, first aired on Radio Martí on July 28.

The program airs each Saturday and Sunday from 4-5 p.m. Joe Cardona, a Cuban American filmmaker and ally who directed “The Day It Snowed In Miami,” a documentary that highlights Anita Bryant’s 1977 campaign against Dade County’s gay rights ordinance, hosts “Arcoíris.”

Nelson Gandulla Díaz, founder of the Cuban Federation for LGBTI Rights, an independent advocacy group, appeared on “Arcoíris” on Aug. 25. Gandulla, a vocal critic of Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBTI-specific issues in Cuba as director of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX), spoke with Cardona from Spain where he has asked for asylum.

“Arcoíris” on Sept. 1 highlighted the experiences of gay prisoners in Cuba. Ignacio Estrada Cepero, founder of the Cuban League Against AIDS who now lives in Miami with his wife, Wendy Iriepa Díaz, a transgender woman who once worked for CENESEX, has also appeared on the program.

Cardona’s family is originally from Havana and Matanzas Province. He told the Washington Blade last month during a telephone interview from Miami his program is “all about taking LGBT issues to the mainstream in Cuba.”

LGBTI rights advocates of Cuban descent in South Florida have welcomed the program.

“‘Arcoíris”‘ is an important window to the outside world for the Cuban LGBTQ community,” said SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima in a Radio Martí press release.

Program host ‘looks beyond’ Mariela Castro

“Arcoíris” debuted roughly three months after Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel took office. It also began to air against the backdrop of the debate over the country’s new constitution with an amendment that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Cuban government is currently holding meetings that allow members of the public to comment on the new constitution. The National Assembly later this year is expected to finalize it before a referendum that is scheduled to take place in February 2019.

This debate, which includes public opposition from evangelical churches, is taking place less than 60 years after gay men were among those sent to labor camps following the 1959 revolution that brought Mariela Castro’s uncle, Fidel Castro, to power.

Supporters of Mariela Castro, among other things, note Cuba now offers free sex-reassignment surgeries through its national health care system. Gandulla and other independent Cuban LGBTI advocates with whom the Blade has spoken insist they face harassment and even arrest if they publicly criticize Mariela Castro, who is a member of the National Assembly, or the Cuban government.

“I almost look beyond Mariela Castro,” Cardona told the Blade. “I look at CENESEX as another government apparatchik.”

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Mariela Castro, daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, leads an LGBTI march through Havana on May 13, 2017. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Cuban government sharply critical of Radio Martí

Radio Martí began broadcasting to Cuba in 1985.

The Miami-based Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which is a branch of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, funds Radio Martí and Televisión Martí. The two outlets have a combined annual budget of $28.1 million.

The Cuban government has sharply criticized Radio Martí and Televisión Martí.

The Miami New Times last month reported less than 10 percent of Cubans listen to Radio Martí broadcasts and less than 1 percent of Cubans watch Televisión Martí programs, in part, because the Cuban government has been able to block them from reaching the island. Critics continue to urge the federal government to decrease its funding of Radio Martí and Televisión Martí.

A 2014 agreement the Cuban government reached with the Obama administration to normalize diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington included expanded internet access in Cuba.

President Trump last year reinstated travel and trade restrictions with Cuba, even though his company and several associates have reportedly violated the U.S. embargo against the Communist island. Internet access in Cuba remains limited and expensive, even though there are now more than 700 public Wi-Fi hotspots across the country and a pilot program the state-run telecommunications company has launched allows Cubans to have Internet connections in their homes.

“I’m not the guy to prohibit anybody from traveling there,” Cardona told the Blade on Friday from Miami. “Obviously I encourage it, but I say to people, go there with eyes open.”

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India Supreme Court ruling decriminalizes homosexuality http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/06/india-supreme-court-ruling-decriminalizes-homosexuality/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/06/india-supreme-court-ruling-decriminalizes-homosexuality/#respond Thu, 06 Sep 2018 10:08:44 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47342930 Landmark decision strikes down colonial-era law

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LGBTI activists in India celebrate a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. (Photo courtesy of Meera Parida)

The India Supreme Court on Thursday ruled consensual same-sex sexual relations are no longer criminalized in the country.

The ruling, which was unanimous, struck down India’s colonial-era sodomy law known as Section 377.

“We hold and declare that in penalizing such sexual conduct, the statutory provision violates the constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality,” reads the ruling. “It denudes members of the LGBT communities of their constitutional right to lead fulfilling lives. In its application to adults of the
same sex engaged in consensual sexual behavior, it violates the constitutional guarantee of the right to life and to the equal protection of law.”

The Delhi High Court in 2009 struck down the statute, but the Supreme Court in 2013 overruled the ruling. Indian lawmakers in 2015 rejected a bill that would have repealed Section 377.

The Supreme Court in January said it would reconsider its 2013 ruling. It held oral arguments in a case that challenged Section 377 in July.

Activists across India, which is the world’s second-most populous country, and around the world celebrated Thursday’s landmark ruling.

“Today we are feeling very proud,” Meera Parida, president of All Odisha Kinnar Mahasangh, a group that advocates on behalf of India’s transgender and gender-variant communities, told the Washington Blade on WhatsApp. “It is a win for humanity.”

Omkar, an engineer from Bangalore who did not provide his last name to the Blade, recently moved to Norway. He said in an email on Thursday that Section 377 “was one of the important factors in the decision-making process when I was looking for other options outside of India.”

“I am really really happy and content that I will no longer be considered as a criminal at least in the eyes of law,” said Omkar. “It is a huge moral boost and it relieves that hidden mental and emotional stress that the existence of Section 377 had caused me.”

Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-secretaries general of ILGA, in a statement also welcomed the ruling.

“We rejoice with all sexual, gender and sex minorities communities in India,” they said. “As of today, a shameful part of an enduring colonial legacy is finally history. We hope that this ruling, which was made possible by the tireless work of many human rights advocates, will have an impact also on other countries around the world where our communities continue to live under the shadow of oppressive criminal laws, especially those that share a common legal heritage with India, as far afield as Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean.”

India is the latest country to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

A judge on Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court in April struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. The chief justice of the Belize Supreme Court in 2016 ruled a statute that criminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country is unconstitutional.

British Prime Minister Theresa May in April said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era sodomy laws the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries. Jamaica, Barbados and Kenya are among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual acts remain criminalized.

“We welcome the Indian Supreme Court judgment on Section 377,” said the British Embassy in India in a tweet. “Nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or who they love. The U.K. continues to support LGBT and equal rights across the world.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in India hours before the court issued its ruling.

A State Department spokesperson told the Blade the U.S. “welcomes the decision by India’s Supreme Court on Section 377.”

“The United States and India stand for the fundamental principles that all people are free and equal in dignity and in rights, and that human rights are universal and indivisible,” said the spokesperson. “No one should face violence, discrimination, or prosecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.”

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Chilean Senate approves trans rights bill http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/05/chilean-senate-approves-trans-rights-bill/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/05/chilean-senate-approves-trans-rights-bill/#respond Wed, 05 Sep 2018 12:20:22 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47282118 Final vote to take place in country's House of Deputies

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The Chilean Senate on Sept. 4, 2018, gave its final approval to a transgender rights bill. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Chilean Senate on Tuesday by a 26-14 vote margin gave its final approval to a bill that would allow transgender people to legally change their name and gender without surgery.

The bill that lawmakers approved does not include Chileans who are under 14-years-old.

Organizando Trans Diversidades and other Chilean advocacy groups applauded the bill’s passage, while criticizing the exclusion of those who are under 14.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in a statement described it as a “step forward for all trans people who are older than 14-years-old, who will be able to see improvements to their quality of life with more simple ways to change their legal name and sex.

“By allowing this, there will be better work, educational and familial opportunities,” it adds.

A trans rights bill has been before Chilean lawmakers since 2013.

President Sebastián Piñera, who took office in March, supports the bill. The measure received renewed attention after “A Fantastic Woman,” a Chilean film that stars trans actress Daniela Vega, won this year’s Oscar for best foreign language film.

The bill now goes before the Chilean House of Deputies for a final vote. Piñera has 30 days to approve or veto it if it passes.

Senado de Chile apruebe proyecto de ley de identidad de género

El Senado de Chile el martes por un margen de 26-14 votos dio su aprobación final a un proyecto de ley que permitiría a personas trans de cambiar legalmente su nombre y género sin cirugía.

El proyecto de ley que los senadores aprobaron no incluye chilenos menores de 14 años.

Organizando Trans Diversidades y otros grupos chilenos aplaudieron la aprobación del proyecto de ley, mientras criticaban la exclusión aquellos menores de 14 años.

El Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual en una declaración la describió como “un avance para todas las personas trans mayores de 14 años, que podrán ver mejorada su calidad de vida con trámites más simples para cambiar su nombre y sexo legal.”

“Al permitirse ello, habrá mejores oportunidades laborales, educacionales y familiares,” añade.

Un proyecto de ley de identidad de género ha estado ante los legisladores chilenos desde 2013.

El presidente Sebastián Piñera, que tomó su cargo en marzo, apoya el proyecto de ley. La iniciativa recibió nueva atención después de “Una mujer fantástica,” una película chilena protagoniza por Daniela Vega, una actriz trans, ganó el Oscar a la Mejor Película Extranjera.

El proyecto de ley ahora va ante la Cámara de Diputados para un voto final. Piñera tiene 30 días para aprobarlo o vetarlo si sea aprobado.

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Matrimonio igualitario en Cuba: La discordia http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/02/matrimonio-igualitario-en-cuba-la-discordia/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/02/matrimonio-igualitario-en-cuba-la-discordia/#respond Sun, 02 Sep 2018 16:00:06 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46991052 El tema ha provocado debate público raro

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Durante años, activistas y personas LGBTI+ han reclamado el derecho al matrimonio igualitario en Cuba. (Foto por Yariel Valdés González/Tremenda Nota)

Nota del editor: Tremenda Nota es una revista electrónica independiente que documenta la comunidad LGBTI del país y otros grupos minoritarios. Tremenda Nota es una pareja de contenido del Washington Blade.

Esa nota salió originalmente en el sitio web de Tremenda Nota.

SANTA CLARA, Cuba — Unas semanas antes de que se conociera la propuesta de modificación del concepto de matrimonio en el proyecto de Carta Magna, la polémica se avivó en las calles y las redes sociales. 

De un lado, cinco denominaciones cristianas promovieron una campaña a favor del “diseño original de la familia, tal como Dios la creó.” De otro lado, la población LGBTI+, numerosos activistas y artistas así como personas heterosexuales, defendieron el diseño original de la familia cubana, cualquiera que fuera su composición. 

Mariela Castro Espín, la directora del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual de Cuba (CENESEX), reconoció frente al Parlamento que “el matrimonio es la posibilidad de garantizar otras oportunidades y otros derechos que se les están negando a las personas por su orientación sexual.” 

Sin embargo, la modificación del concepto de matrimonio provocó más polémica en las calles que en el propio Parlamento. En las plazas, en las reuniones de debate o incluso en las instituciones eclesiásticas ahora la gente aprueba o cuestiona el artículo 68 que establece “la unión voluntariamente concertada entre dos personas con aptitud legal para ello, a fin de hacer vida en común.” 

Jovann Silva Delgado, un abogado cubano residente en Estados Unidos, considera que el texto del artículo “no deja lugar a las dudas sobre la intención del legislador de abrir la posibilidad para que dos personas del mismo sexo se puedan casar.”
 
Sin embargo, a Silva Delgado le preocupa que la discusión de los cubanos se circunscriba únicamente al artículo 68, y que, cuando sean llamados a un referendo obvien otros fundamentos esenciales para el ejercicio democrático en el país.

Por su parte, María Jorge López, coordinadora de Labrys, un grupo lésbico de Santa Clara, hace varias semanas convocó al público de El Mejunje a votar a favor de la nueva Constitución. María es militante del Partido Comunista de Cuba y está de acuerdo con el Proyecto de Carta de Magna sometido actualmente a consulta popular.
 
A partir de los debates populares iniciados el pasado 13 de agosto el Noticiero de Televisión Nacional ha transmitido opiniones contrarias al matrimonio igualitario. Hasta ahora, el debate del resto de los artículos se limita a ligeras sugerencias de adición y, sobre todo, al asentimiento. Nadie cuestiona las estrictas bases pautadas en el proyecto: el papel rector del Partido Comunista de Cuba o el carácter irrevocable del sistema social, económico y político del país, parecen puntos inviolables.

¿Quién es más original?

La Liga Evangélica de Cuba, la Convención Bautista de Occidente, la Convención Bautista de Oriente, así como la Iglesia Metodista en Cuba y la Iglesia Evangélica Asamblea de Dios, se pronunciaron en mayo pasado a favor del “diseño original de la familia” y convocaron a diversos ayunos y “clamores” para expresar su disgusto con el posible cambio en la Ley suprema.  

Del otro lado, los activistas generaron una campaña, sobre todo en las redes sociales, para respaldar el cambio en la nueva constitución. Y sustituyeron el cartel divulgado por las iglesias por otro que defendía el “diseño cubano” de una “familia muy original,” que no se limita a la fórmula Papá + Mamá + Bebé(s).

Al ser interpelado, Yoan Pérez de Ordaz, un líder de jóvenes en la Iglesia Bautista La Trinidad de Santa Clara, se escuda en el criterio de que “el futuro del país debiera ser de todos.” 

“Básicamente, la posición de los evangélicos es que no debería existir una legislación respecto al matrimonio igualitario. Sin embargo, considero que la Carta [de las cinco denominaciones cristianas] que está circulando no se abre al diálogo,” apunta este devoto cristiano. 

No obstante, Pérez de Ordaz entiende que, históricamente, los cristianos y los homosexuales recibieron maltratos por parte del sistema. Unos y otros “fueron juntos a la UMAP [Unidades Militares de Apoyo a la Agricultura], pero, en estos momentos, la ley solo favorece a unos. Nuestra cosmovisión no va a estar reflejada en la constitución ni en el Código de Familia. Por eso, el documento no va a ser inclusivo: me excluye a mí y a muchos más.”

La iglesia católica también se ha hecho eco de la campaña contra el matrimonio igualitario, aunque más discretamente. En la foto: Un mural en las afueras de la casa de las Siervas de Jesús, en Santa. Clara. (Foto por Carlos Alejandro Rodríguez Martínez/Tremenda Nota)

Mientras varias iglesias se oponen al cambio en el concepto de matrimonio, en La Habana varios activistas organizan intervenciones públicas y sesiones fotográficas de bodas simbólicas frente a la Plaza de la Revolución y otros lugares emblemáticos de la capital.

En el anfiteatro de El Mejunje, la meca de los marginados en el centro del país, muchos concurrentes opinan que el matrimonio no debe ser considerada la última meta a alcanzar. 

Blancuchini, una conocida transformista de Santa Clara, cree que las personas LGBTI+ también necesitan el respeto de la policía, o que se admita a las personas trans en sus centros de trabajo o estudio con ropas consideradas femeninas.

“Aquí to´ el mundo quiere casarse, algún día me llegará mi media naranja,” revela Zuleika, otra chica trans de Santa Clara que plantea su propia petición: “una ley que me deje ponerme mi nombre en el carné de identidad.” Otros, como Javier Lorenzo Olivera, transformista de Santa Clara, espera que en el futuro cercano se permita la adopción a las parejas de gais y lesbianas. 

Las personas LGBTI+ también han abogado por que se reconozca el derecho a heredar, entre otros. A partir del potencial cambio de la ley, Francisco Águila Medina, profesor de filosofía jubilado, advierte también que “se acabarán las barreras para ir a un hotel o a un cabaré a los que se debe entrar por parejas. Creo que cambiarán hasta los planes de estudio en escuelas y universidades.” 

Sin embargo, el artista visual y diseñador habanero Roberto Ramos Mori representa a otro grupo de activistas que, aunque reconocen la importancia del matrimonio igualitario dudan de su capacidad transformadora. “Yo no estoy en contra del matrimonio. Estoy en contra de la institución matrimonio que regula la manera en que construyes tu familia, y [en contra de] que sea el matrimonio lo que te dé garantías sociales. El Estado debería asegurar el desarrollo pleno de la sexualidad humana, sin que importe la situación de vida de las personas,” dijo Ramos Mori a Tremenda Nota.

A pesar de las opiniones encontradas, gran parte de la población LGBTI+ cubana percibe la Carta Magna como la única forma de ser reconocida y respetada por primera vez ante la sociedad. Ramos Mori opina: “A partir de que pueda formar parte y participar realmente, al margen de mi orientación sexual o identidad de género, podré considerar otros derechos.”

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