Mariela Castro becomes first person to vote 'No' in Cuba's National Assembly over LGBT workers' rights

The daughter of President Castro is one of Cuba's most vociferous LGBT right's activists

Mariela Castro has become the first person to vote ‘No’ in Cuba’s National Assembly, over a lack of protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers in a government bill.

The head of Cuba's National Centre for Sex Education, and daughter of President Raul Castro, felt the proposal did not go far enough in preventing discrimination on grounds of gender identity or people living with HIV.

The new labour code bans workplace discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation, but made no mention of HIV status or the gender a person identifies with.

Even widely criticised measures have been passed through the 612-seat assembly which briefly meets twice a year and approves laws by unanimous show of hands.

The vast majority of Assembly members maintain other jobs and are not professional lawmakers. Laws are generally drafted by a small group of legislators and discussed with citizens before being presented to parliament.

Read more: Russia in deal with Cuba to reopen Cold War base
Book review: Intoxicating debut novel of US expats in Cuba
The revolutionary who entered Havana alongside Castro but was imprisoned for 'treason'

As one of the island’s most prominent LGBT rights activist, Castro has often taken stands that challenge the social status quo, while firmly supporting the Communist government.

Few Cubans were aware of the vote held on 20 December this year until after the measure was enacted into law this summer. Since then, LGBT activists publicised the vote by Castro.

In an interview posted in late July on the blog of LGBT rights activist Francisco Rodriguez, Mariela Castro suggested there could be more debate in the assembly.

“There have been advances in the way things are discussed, above all the way things are discussed at the grass-roots level, in workplaces, unions and party groupings,” she said.

“I think we still need to perfect the democratic participation of the representatives within the Assembly.”

Mariela Castro pictured promoting International Day Against Homophobia, in Havana, Cuba. Mariela Castro pictured promoting International Day Against Homophobia, in Havana, Cuba.
Of the measure she voted against she said: “I could not vote in favour without the certainty that the labour rights of people with different gender identity would be explicitly recognized."

Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban analyst who lectures at the University of Denver, said he believes Castro’s move might “open doors for other important initiatives." But Ted Henken, a professor of Latin American studies at Baruch College in New York, said it was more likely a signal of what Ms Castro's family links allow her.
In the past, Mariela has spoken in favour of legalising same-sex unions in Cuba, but legislation has not materialised.

LGBT rights in Cuba are a sensitive subject, after homosexual islands were were routinely harassed and sent to labor camps along with others considered socially suspect in the 1960s and '70s.

More recently, Fidel Castro sad he regretted the past treatment of LGBT citizens, and today Cuba's free and universal health care system covers gender reassignment surgery.

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine