Gays and Cuba

Xyxyxyyx (Xyxy) Xyyxyx xyxy at
Tue Nov 19 14:23:14 MST 2002

Question: Are "homosexuals" still denied membership in the Communist Party
in Cuba? Last I checked that was the case, but I hadn't really heard
anything about it for a year or so. If so, that is probably the example of
the most homophobic measure existing in that country, where party
membership is key to advancement in most major employment spheres.


Some facts I pulled from the International Gay and Lesbian Association fact
sheet on Cuba (written in 1998):

On Freedom of Association:

-members of the Cuban Association of Gays and Lesbians (group founded in
1994) were arrested at their places of employment; group is 'squashed'
[September 17, 1997, El Nuevo Herald]

-"The true situation however is quite arbitrary. There are no real gay
meeting establishments, but private parties called "10 Pesos" (cost of
admission). A system of "warnings" exists for Cuban gays who are identified
at these places (a third written warning can mean a prison term).
Nevertheless, despite such arbitrary police practice, in the last few years
there has been a shift towards greater tolerance of gay parties and
gatherings." (Statement expressing concern at government crack down by ILGA
Secretaries General, 27th August 1997)

On Freedom of Expression:

-Article 303a of Cuba's Penal Code (added April 30, 1988) punishes
"publicly manifested" homosexuality with between 3 months to 1 year in
prison for "publicly bothering others with homosexual amorous advances".
ILGA states that "publicly manifested" can mean anything from clothing to
behaviour. [Amnesty International maintains that this law means that
homsexuality is still illegal in Cuba, but the ILGA thinks that's an overly
narrow look at the law which doesn't punish behaviour/dress in one's home
or other private residence].

-"Homosexuals and transvestites are regularly detained by the police and
accused of public scandal for which they can be condemned to three months
in jail or a 500 peso fine," (El Nuevo Herald quoted in 17 Sept 97 - RW 2877)

On Protection from Discrimination/Vilification:

-There are no anti-discrimination or anti-vilification laws in Cuba that
protect lesbians and gays.

On HIV/AIDS Discrimination:

14-Nov-95: "Ten percent of Cuba's 1,180 HIV-positives have left the HIV-
quarantine facilities and returned to normal life after convincing
authorities they will behave responsibly, the Prensa Latina news agency
reported Nov. 14. A smaller, undisclosed number, could have left but opted
to stay, said Manuel Hernandez, head of the national anti-AIDS campaign.

"Under the "ambulatory system" implemented more than a year ago, most
People with HIV/AIDS in Cuba can now live outside the sanitariums
established when the epidemic first hit here. People who have tested HIV
positive can remain at home, at work and in their communities and continue
to receive the same quality care as they would in the sanitariums. Most
sanitarium residents can also return home, though a minority are denied
this option because sanitarium staff don't trust them to practice safe
sex." ("A GAY MAY DAY IN HAVANA" by Sonja de Vries - May Day, 1995)

On Police Harassment/Social Cleansing:

19-Jan-95: "A drag queen living in the U.S. refugee camp at Guantanamo Bay
Naval Base, Cuba, talked to the Associated Press in hopes gays in San
Francisco would read the article and help him and his friends emigrate to
the U.S. The camp houses people who tried to flee Cuba last year in
homemade boats. The man is one of 21 gays housed apart from the other 1,900
inmates for their own protection, said U.S. Army Capt. David Lee." (RW/1066)

17-Sep-97: "Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar and French designer Jean Paul
Gaultier were among the several hundred people detained in the Aug. 23 raid
on Havana's most popular gay discotheque, El Periquiton, according to an
unconfirmed report from the Cuban Independent Press Agency. Cuban customers
of the club were fined 30 pesos (US$1) and released from a police station
the next day. Two busloads of foreigners were transported to immigration
authorities for a document check. Marianela Ferriol, a spokesperson for the
Ministry of Foreign Relations, said police. But sources in Havana and Miami
say the raid was, in fact, the latest move in a widescale crackdown on all
things gay.

"Gays are falling under the thumb of the government," said Alberto Montano
of Miami's Cuba AIDS Project. The government "needs to keep everyone in
their place and these [private house-discos] had become a place of freedom
for gays. El Periquiton was the ... gay Tropicana, and drew a lot of

According to Miami's El Nuevo Herald, several of the dozen or so other
private gay clubs in Havana also have been raided, including Mi Cayito,
Jurassic Park and Fiestas de Serrano y Correa. Several government
nightclubs whose customers were predominantly homosexual also have been
raided, including La Red, El Karachi and El Joker, all located in the
Vedado nightlife district.

On Asylum:

-While LGBT persons are not granted asylum status in Cuba, Cuban LGBT
persons have been granted asylum in Canada.

I couldn't find any information on adoption rights, spousal
rights/benefits, biological parenting rights, immigration rights, etc.

PLEASE clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.

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