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Gay former Cuba lawmaker banned from leaving country

Luis Ángel Adán Roble supports anti-government protesters

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Luis Ángel Adán Roble (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

HAVANA — A gay man who is a former member of Cuba’s National Assembly has been banned from leaving the country.

Luis Ángel Adán Roble on Aug. 14 tweeted a picture of a Cuba’s Interior Ministry website that indicates he cannot travel “for reasons of public interest.”

Adán told the Los Angeles Blade that authorities have not told him why they decided to ban him from traveling outside of Cuba. He speculated they sanctioned him because he refused to “work with” state security officials.

Adán in his Aug. 14 tweet described the decision as “illegal” and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human Rights Watch Americas Division Executive Director José Miguel Vivanco and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet are among those who Adán tagged.

Adán represented the Havana neighborhood of Centro Habana in the National Assembly from April 19, 2018, through Nov. 21, 2019. He was the only openly gay man in the legislative body at the time.

Adán in May 2019 spoke at an LGBTQ Victory Institute-sponsored conference that took place in Colombia. Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, reported he had a falling out with the National Center for Sexual Education, a group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former President Raúl Castro that spearheads LGBTQ-specific issues on the island, before he was “relieved” of his public duties.

Adán has publicly backed the anti-government protesters who took to the streets across Cuba on July 11. Adán has also expressed his support for Yoan de la Cruz, a gay man who used Facebook Live to live-stream the first July 11 protest that took place in San Antonio de los Baños, a municipality in Artemisa province that is just outside of Havana.

Authorities detained De La Cruz on July 23. Adán on Monday tweeted De La Cruz is now in a prison in Güines, a municipality in Mayabeque province, and has been accused of “inciting the masses.”

“He was very skinny and very depressed when his family saw him,” tweeted Adán. “His lawyer has for a second time asked for charges to be dropped.”

Adán on Monday criticized a new internet law that the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs describes as “another censorship law in a clear post-protest attempt to silence the Cuban people.” Adán in a tweet said Cuba “is a dictatorship.”

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Gay man who livestreamed Cuba anti-government protest released from prison

Yoan de la Cruz received 6-year sentence

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Yoan de la Cruz is a gay man who broadcast to the world the first videos of the anti-government protests in Cuba that took place on July 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

HAVANA — A gay man who received a 6-year prison sentence for live-streaming an anti-government protest in Cuba has been released.

Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba, and sources on the island on Friday confirmed Yoan de la Cruz’s release from prison.

De La Cruz on July 11, 2021, used Facebook Live to livestream a protest in San Antonio de los Baños, a municipality in Artemisa province that is just west of Havana. The protest is one of dozens against the Cuban government that took place across the country on the same day.

A Havana court in March sentenced De La Cruz to six years in prison.

De La Cruz’s mother described the sentence as an “injustice” and said her son’s health deteriorated while in prison. One source in Cuba told the Blade that authorities sentenced De La Cruz to five years of house arrest after the original sentence was appealed.

The Blade will provide additional details as they become available.

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Caribbean

British territories appeals court upholds Bermuda marriage equality repeal law

Plaintiff criticized government ‘crusade against same-sex marriage’

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(Photo courtesy of Rebecca Kelliher)

LONDON — A British territories appellate court on Monday upheld a Bermuda law that rescinded marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The 4-1 decision from the Privy Council’s Judicial Committee in London comes more three years after Bermuda’s government appealed a Bermuda Court of Appeals ruling that found the Domestic Partnership Act — which allows same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships as opposed to get married — unconstitutional.

Supreme Court Justice Charles-Etta Simmons in 2017 issued a ruling that paved the way for gays and lesbians to legally marry in Bermuda. The Domestic Partnership Act that then-Gov. John Rankin signed took effect on June 1, 2018.

“To my fellow LGBTQ+ Bermudians, I wish to say to you what I also need to hear at this moment. You matter. Your hurt matters. You deserve better than this,” said Roderick Ferguson, one of the plaintiffs in the marriage equality case, in an OUTBermuda press release on Monday after the Privy Council’s Judicial Committee released its ruling. “The Bermuda government’s crusade against same-sex marriage was waged to convince you that there’s something shameful about your sexuality. Don’t believe that tired old lie.”

The Privy Council’s Judicial Committee on Monday also ruled same-sex couples in the Cayman Islands don’t have a constitutional right to marry in the British territory.

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Trinidad and Tobago’s first Transgender senator sworn in

Jowelle De Souza owns beauty salon, champions animal rights

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Jowelle De Souza (Photo via Jowelle De Souza's Facebook page)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — An activist in Trinidad and Tobago on Feb. 15 became the country’s first openly Transgender senator.

Local media reports note Jowelle De Souza is filling-in for the ailing Sen. Jayanti Lutchmedial, a member the United National Congress, a center-left opposition party.

“Always happy to serve my country,” said De Souza in an Instagram post.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jowelle De Souza (@jowelledesouza)

De Souza, who is also an animal rights activist, owns a beauty salon in San Fernando, the country’s second largest city.

De Souza in 1993 became the first person to undergo sex-reassignment surgery in Trinidad and Tobago.

Maykel González Vivero of Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba who reported from Trinidad and Tobago in 2017 for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, noted De Souza in 1997 became the first Trans person to file a lawsuit against the country’s government.

De Souza alleged the police officers who arrested her during a protest violated her constitutional rights when they harassed her because of her gender identity. De Souza settled her lawsuit out of court.

De Souza unsuccessfully ran for Parliament in 2015.

Trinidad and Tobago’s nondiscrimination laws do not include gender identity and sexual orientation. A High Court judge in 2018 struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy statute.

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