Tag Archives: Revolutionary

Rise of LGBT rights in Cuba

In the early 1970s and 1980s Cuba, like any communist country, looked at the other countries for guidance in the hope that they all would be moving in the right direction. Some people think that Cuba grew more tolerant due to the rise of the feminist movement. Many believe this was the key to a more liberal-minded attitude and greater social tolerance towards Cuba’s LGBT community.

This is usually backed up by the Cuban National Centre for Sex Eduction, which was funded by the Cuban Women’s Federation in 1977. The centre’s goal was to enlighten the outlook on homosexuality and slowly start to undermine traditional sexual prejudices and taboos. Also around this time the law of sexual division of labor was broken within the traditional family unit. By 1979 it was no longer a crime for two queer people to have sex.

But even with all these laws in power and feminism on the rise, the government still encouraged people to discriminate against open homosexuals. Some LGBT people were forced to leave as “unnecessary” parts of society, who in the eyes of the government were hampering Cuba’s development. It is believed that this strong aggression was due to Cuba’s devotion to Stalin’s ideology towards LGBT people.

Thankfully in 1986 there was a huge positive shift in Cuban law, which was the full annulment of any other laws restricting homosexulaity. Authorities were told to release anyone who had been previously jailed due to the absurd laws which had put them behind bars for simply being who they were. During this period the government became rather sex positive and were encouraging everyone to practice safe sex,. This was seen as a move to gain the support of the LGBT community. As odd as it sounds now, homosexuality was no longer seen as perversion by the medical society. This was an enormous step!

One of the biggest achievements came in June 2008, when the Cuban government permitted doctors to perform sex change operations. These are still being successfully performed. Also, state television continues to portray gay characters. Even if it’s still highly controversial, it is an essential step for society to let go of the tainted past. The Castro family have all been apologizing for their mistakes and stating that they are sorry for what they have done. It is believed that the rest of the government will not go against their words, but the fact that many LGBT people’s lives were destroyed by their hands still remains.

Dark Side of Cuban LGBT History

The future of Cuba has often been on people’s minds and thoughts; a lot of people have high hopes for it and others just dismiss it. Just like any other country, Cuba has a big population of LGBT people. In Cuba and around the world, the LGBT community is not really a minority, but often the numbers lie and unfortunately many are still in the closet.

Cuba still scores ridiculously low when it comes to basic human rights. LGBT people have always been targeted and still are to this day. Even if there is a positive gradual shift, Cuba still has a long way to go, just like the rest of the world.

The country had a few openly LGBT bars in Pre-Revolutionary Cuba, but soon that was to change. In the 1930s, a new law came to power: the Public Ostentation Law. This law heavily encouraged the discrimination of queer people and was only repealed in 1988!

Cuba’s revolution raised a lot of hope for many people and especially for LGBT people, who helped the revolution to take place. Unfortunately Castro wasn’t any kinder than the previous rulers of Cuba. Homosexuality was widely regarded as a product of capitalism, which should be entirely rooted out of a communist society.

The country used different methods to get rid of homosexuals, because in their eyes the ideal “New Man” was a strong and surely heterosexual male. UMAPs (Military Units to Aid Production) were soon introduced. These were labor camps designed to turn men into heterosexuals.

Castro later apologized for the mistreatment in the camps, but the government still tried to keep enforcing the Public Ostentation Law. The government decided that in order to rebuild the country, they had to get rid of “unwanted” people such as homosexuals, disabled people and criminals. If you were deemed undesireable by society, you were given a span of two months to leave Cuba. This was known as the Mariel Boat lift.

This was the darkest period of LGBT persecution in Cuba, but there is still more to the story.