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Family code bill to be introduced in Cuban Parliament in July

CENESEX made announcement during May 4 press conference

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Mariela Castro during a CENESEX press conference. (Photo from Cubadebate)

Tremenda Nota is the Los Angeles Blade’s media partner in Cuba. A Spanish version of this story was published on May 6.

HAVANA — The National Center for Sexual Education on May 4 during a press conference in which it unveiled the program for the 14th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia events in Cuba announced a bill to amend the family code will be introduced in Parliament in July.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro Espín said during a meeting with official and foreign media outlets at the International Press Center that this year’s events are part of the process of amending the family code.

She added that this legal change will reflect several rights guaranteed in the constitution, which is why it is necessary to sensitize and educate the Cuban population to avoid prejudice and discrimination.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” said Mariela Castro during the press conference.

The official referred to the results of the National Survey on Gender Equality in Cuba, conducted in 2016 and published in 2019. According to this official study, 77 percent of the Cuban population between 15 and 74-years-old said that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people should have the same rights as any other citizen.

CENESEX’s director, however, did not use this information in the 2018 parliamentary debates sparked by Article 68 of the bill to amend the constitution. The idea that it was not the appropriate time to implement same-gender marriage in Cuba eventually won out.

Mariela Castro told Tremenda Nota a few days before the referendum in which Cuban voters approved the current constitution that she was aware of the survey, but she did not explain why she did not use the data it revealed as an argument (in favor of marriage equality.)

“It was a wasted tool that now we can only use in the next referendum,” then-MP Luis Ángel Adán Roble told Tremenda Nota during a February 2019 interview, as did Mariela Castro.

The moment that Adán Roble mentioned has arrived.

It became known during the May 4 press conference that the family code will be introduced in the scheduled parliamentary session in July. The Council of State on March 22 appointed a commission that will be in charge of preparing the bill, but the list of its members was not made public until April 30. None of them are openly LGBTI+.

Activists over the last few weeks have demanded that Parliament reveal the identities of those who make up the commission and the deadline they have to prevent the Family Code. The May 4 press conference resolved the last outstanding point.

The Cuban IDAHOBiT program

Mariela Castro and CENESEX Deputy Director Manuel Vázquez Seijido explained that numerous activities with the goal of making visible and fighting against all types of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity will virtually take place from May 4 through May 30.

The IDAHOBiT events in Cuba have a program that includes academic dialogue, social activism and artistic presentations from virtual spaces.

Forum debates are among the activities. The Juventud Rebelde newspaper will host the first one with the theme “Deconstructing myths around same-sex families and partners” and Cubadebate will hold the second called “Constitution and Sexual Rights in Cuba: Progress and Main challenges.”

They also announced at the press conference the books “Paquito el de Cuba: A Decade of Online Activism” and “Non-Heteronormative Sexualities and Gender Identities. Tensions and Challenges for Human Rights” will be presented.

There will be virtual panels titled “Diverse Families: Histories of Non-Hegemonic Lives,” “National Program for the Advancement of Women: Opportunities to Confront Homophobia and Transphobia,” “Keys for Inclusive Communication” and “Sexual Rights and Religious Fundamentalisms.”

Castro Espín explained that CENESEX will use its social media accounts to promote the program, contribute to the sexual education of Cubans and the recognition of rights for all people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

A show against homophobia and transphobia that will officially end the events will be broadcast on social media and on television.

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Blinken says Biden raised Russia’s LGBTQ rights record with Putin

Geneva summit between two presidents took place on June 16

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken (YouTube screenshot)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said President Biden raised the Kremlin’s LGBTQ rights record with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their recent summit.

“The president pushed human rights — including LGBTQI rights — with President Putin,” Blinken told Washington Post columnist, “PBS NewsHour” contributor and host of MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show” Jonathan Capehart during a virtual Pride month discussion the Atlantic Council hosted.

Biden met with Putin on June 16 in Geneva. Blinken was among those who participated in the summit.

The White House did not say whether Biden specifically raised Russia’s LGBTQ rights record with Putin. Biden told reporters after the summit that he stressed to Putin “that no president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal rights and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have, in our view.”

“What he told President Putin is that as an American president — where for all of our challenges, many of which are manifest in recent months and recent years — this is something that is basically stamped in to our DNA and he would be abdicating his responsibility as president, as an American president, not to raise these issues,” Blinken told Capehart.

Capehart specifically asked Blinken about the case of two Chechen brothers who were arrested in Russia in February and returned to their homeland, even though they had fled Chechnya’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown.

“We didn’t get into specific cases in that meeting, but he made very clear to President Putin that this is fundamentally who we and who he is and what we’ll do and will continue to do going forward,” said Blinken.

Blinken also did not say how Putin specifically responded to Biden’s decision to raise his country’s LGBTQ rights record with him. Blinken, however, did say “there was at least an acknowledgment” the U.S. will raise human rights in such meetings.

“This is what an American president should do,” said Blinken. “This is who we are and this is what we represent to the world.”

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Las iglesias en Cuba están más preocupadas por la educación sexual que por el Código de las Familias

Los adventistas publicaron una carta dirigida al presidente

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Una iglesia de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día en Santa Clara, Cuba. (Foto de Michael K. Lavers por el Washington Blade)

Tremenda Nota es el medio socio del Los Angeles Blade. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 16 de junio.

CÁRDENAS, Cuba — Una declaración oficial de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día confirma que la preocupación de algunas iglesias cristianas contrarias a los derechos LGBTI+, está más motivada por el programa de educación sexual integral aprobado por el Ministerio de Educación (Mined) que por el Código de las Familias.

Los adventistas, en una carta pública dirigida al presidente cubano Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, manifestaron estar “preocupadas” por la Resolución No. 16/2021, aprobada por el Mined el pasado 26 de febrero con el propósito de establecer un programa educativo con enfoque de género que promueve la inclusión de personas LGBTI+, entre otros temas.

La declaración adventista, aunque dice estar en “desacuerdo” con “los ajustes que se quieren hacer al Código de Familia”, solicitó puntualmente al gobierno “no exponer a nuestros niños, niñas y adolescentes a la ideología de género en las escuelas”.

“Finalmente, en caso de implementarse el programa de ideología de género en nuestras escuelas que este sea opcional, ya que no existen escuelas cristianas”, insistieron los adventistas.

La resolución aprobada por el Mined declara: “El respeto a la diversidad sexual, como fundamento ético y de protección de los derechos de las personas y de rechazo a prácticas y comportamientos homofóbicos, transfóbicos e inhumanos”.

La solicitud principal de la declaración adventista coincide con lo manifestado por otras denominaciones cristianas en sus recientes posiciones públicas. La Convención Bautista de Cuba Occidental, por ejemplo, también recomendó que la educación sexual sea ofrecida como una opción no obligatoria, bajo supervisión del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (Cenesex).

“Sería doloroso que muchos ciudadanos dignos se vean en la disyuntiva de no llevar a sus hijos a la escuela (asumiendo las consecuencias de ese acto de desobediencia civil) o entregarlos mansamente al bombardeo sectario de una ideología que rechazamos”, dijeron los bautistas.

La Liga Evangélica de Cuba, en su declaración publicada este 10 de junio, enfatizó en que se garantice la libertad religiosa y expresó que personas LGBTI+ “tienen derecho a luchas por sus demandas y pedir igualdad ante la ley”.

Los adventistas, en la misma línea que los metodistas, quienes solicitaron al gobierno una Ley de Cultos que refuerce la libertad religiosa, dijeron en su carta que si las autoridades finalmente legislan a favor de la igualdad LGBTI+, también proteja a quienes defienden “el punto de vista contrario a la ideología de género”, para evitar que sean acusados de homofobia “por proclamar y vivir los principios bíblicos”.

Los metodistas advirtieron sobre el peligro de “criminalizar nuestra defensa del diseño original de la familia, el matrimonio y la identidad humana”.

Las últimas declaraciones de las iglesias cristianas parecen dar como un hecho inevitable que el Código de las Familias adoptará el matrimonio LGBTI+ y se han enfocado en defender el derecho de los cristianos a profesar la fe que deseen sin ser molestados y la facultad de los padres para elegir la educación de los hijos menores de edad.

La resolución del Mined que han criticado estas iglesias, ya está en vigor. El Código de las Familias, la ley que debe resolver si el matrimonio será un derecho de las parejas LGBTI+, será presentado al parlamento en julio próximo. Después de ser aprobado por la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, será sometido a referendo.

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US condemns murder of prominent transgender activist in Guatemala

Andrea González murdered days after vice president visited country

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Andrea González (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

GUATEMALA CITY — The U.S. has condemned the murder of a prominent transgender activist in Guatemala.

Reports indicate Andrea González, executive director of Organización Trans Reinas de la Noche, a trans advocacy group, was shot to death in broad daylight on June 11 near her home in Guatemala City. Las Reinas de la Noche in a statement posted to its Twitter page mourned González.

“Reinas de la Noche is in mourning over the irreparable loss of Andrea González, a leader and activist for the human rights of trans people,” said Reinas de la Noche. “Her legacy will endure in each one of us, and her light will never be extinguished.”

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala noted González participated in the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program that invites human rights activists, journalists and civil society members to the U.S. to meet with their counterparts and American officials.

Andrea González in D.C. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

González also worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala mourns the death of Andrea González,” said the embassy in a statement.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power and U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala William Popp on Wednesday visited Reina de las Noche’s headquarters to express their condolences over González’s murder.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung in a statement noted González was killed days after Cecy Ixpata, who was also affiliated with Reinas de la Noche, was killed in Salamá, the capital of Guatemala’s Baja Verapaz department.

Salamá is roughly three hours northeast of Guatemala City.

“We condemn the outrageous murders of two transgender women in Guatemala,” said Chung. “We believe all such violence must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.” 

Chung added the murders are “particularly saddening as we celebrate the contributions of LGBTQI+ activists around the world during Pride month.”

Violence and discrimination based on gender identity remains widespread in Guatemala.

Two activists who work with LGBTQ Guatemalans and Guatemalans with HIV/AIDS are among the 18 members of Guatemala civil society who participated in a roundtable with Vice President Kamala Harris in Guatemala City on June 7. 

Harris has previously noted that violence based on gender identity is one of the “root causes” of migration from Guatemala and other Central American countries. State Department spokesperson Ned Price last month noted to the Blade during an interview ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia that protecting LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers is one of the Biden administration’s global LGBTQ rights priorities.  

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