Cuban lawmakers ban anti-gay employment discrimination
December 21, 2013
By Michael K. Lavers on December 21, 2013
Cuban lawmakers on Friday approved a proposal that would amend the
country's labor law to ban employment discrimination based on sexual
"Experienced a countless number of emotions today in Parliament," said
Cuban blogger Francisco Rodríguez who blogs under the pen name Paquito
El De Cuba on his Twitter page as Andrés Duque of Blabbeando reported.
"We now have the first law that protects gays, in this case in employment."
Rodríguez tweeted there was also what he described as an "intense
debate" about amending the island's labor law to also ban discrimination
based on gender identity and expression.
He said Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and
executive director of the country's National Center for Sex Education
(CENESEX), proposed the trans-specific amendment. Rodríguez said she
also obtained support for it from Christian and intellectual leaders in
The Cuban newspaper Granma on Saturday reported Mariela Castro, who is
the niece of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, sought to amend the
employment law that broadly referenced "the equality of the worker," but
did not specifically ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and
other factors in the workplace. The publication further noted Mariela
Castro also sought to ban employment discrimination based on gender
identity, disability and HIV status.
Ignacio Estrada Cepero, founder of the Cuban League Against AIDS, told
the Blade on Saturday from Miami that he had previously predicted the
Cuban Parliament would have approved something along the lines of
banning anti-gay discrimination in the workplace during their most
Estrada and his transgender wife, former CENESEX employee Wendy Iriepa
Díaz, remain critical of Mariela Castro and her father's government. The
two met with Cuban-born U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in July
on Capitol Hill while they were in the U.S. on a three month trip.
"You would have to ask if any of us taking a seat inside the Cuban
Parliament would have been able to achieve this" Estrada told the Blade.
"It surely would have been impossible to achieve it."
Estrada added Cuban parliamentarians only approved the proposal to ban
anti-gay discrimination in the workplace because Mariela Castro
introduced it and she is the Cuban president's daughter.
Equality Forum in May honored Mariela Castro for her efforts on behalf
of LGBT Cubans. The executive director of the Philadelphia-based gay
advocacy group refused to allow this reporter to ask the Cuban
president's daughter about her country's human rights record during a
press conference before she accepted an award from the organization.
Ros-Lehtinen is among those who blasted Equality Forum for honoring
Mariela Castro. The U.S. government also faced criticism for granting
her a visa that allowed her to travel to Philadelphia to accept the award.
"The tyrannical regime in Cuba likes to fool those who are easily fooled
but, unless there are human rights for all, there can be no true rights
just for gays," Ros-Lehtinen told the Blade in a statement on Saturday.
"One would have to be quite gullible to give any credence to reports
that the non-freely elected sham of a parliament has passed a
non-discrimination law regarding individuals who are LGBT. The Castro
regime allows no freedom but it knows how to sugar coat its horrid human
rights record by promoting a law that will never mean a thing. The Cuban
people deserve freedom, whether they are gay or straight. Liberty knows
no gender identity."
CENESEX and the Cuban government did not return the Blade's request for
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