Posted on Tuesday, 04.30.13
Mariela Castro gets permit to travel to LGBT forum in U.S.
By Juan O. Tamayo
Reversing its previous rejection, the U.S. State Department has decided
to allow the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, sexologist Mariela
Castro, to attend a gay rights forum in Philadelphia on Saturday.
The director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education and a vocal
proponent of same-sex marriage and other gay rights, she received a U.S.
visa to attend several gatherings in May at the United Nations
headquarters in Manhattan.
But the State Department initially denied her permission to travel to
Philadelphia to attend the Equality Forum's Global LGBT Summit on
Saturday and receive the group's International Ally for LGBT Equality Award.
Department officials initially held her to the same restrictions as all
Cuban diplomats assigned to the U.N. — no travel more than 25 miles from
Manhattan's Columbus Circle, adjoining Central Park, without advance
The Cuban government imposes similar restrictions on U.S. diplomats in
Havana — no travel outside the province of Havana without advance
permits from the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Both sides generally
issue the permits on a reciprocal basis.
The Equality Forum, a nonprofit international LGBT rights organization,
draws many personalities and politicians to its annual summits. Each
year the summit features a different country — and this year it's Cuba's
"Equality Forum is delighted that the State Department has affirmed
democratic values by authorizing Mariela Castro" to attend the summit,
said Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin. The forum "will include a
discussion of the history, progress and challenges of LGBT Cubans."