(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Homosexuality was legalised in 1988 as the Parliament abrogated the 1930s Law of Public Ostentation. The former law prohibited public homosexual demonstrations, punishable by fine and imprisonment.
Even though homosexuality is now legal in Cuba, same sex marriage is not recognised; Article 36 of the Constitution only recognises unions between a man and a woman. Cuba’s Parliament has debated a proposal to recognise homosexual marriages, (2012) however it did not pass. The Cuba Penal Code does not prohibit homosexuality, but the Constitution of 1992 does not protect homosexual rights.
Matter of Toboso-Alfonso, United States Board of Immigration Appeals, 12 March 1990
In this case, a gay Cuban national was ordered to be deported by the Attorney General who said: “I hereby designate the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals in In re: Fidel Toboso-Alfonso (A23 220 644) (March 12, 1990) as precedent in all proceedings involving the same issue or issues.”
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
The Cuban Government put same-sex civil unions on the legislative agenda in 2012 that, if passed, would have allowed legal civil partnerships. It would also define a policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity towards LGBTI people. Advocacy work for LGBTI issues has been largely headed up by Mariela Castro who announced in an interview, in 2001, that gay men are able to serve in the military.
Another significant step came from Fidel Castro who, in 2010, apologised and took responsibility for the injustices faced by homosexuals following the revolution in 1959.
Politically there have been changes made in government policy. There are now annual government-sanctioned gay pride marches. In public health, the Health Minister José Ramón Balaguer signed the resolution that allows for the existence of an ‘integral health care for transsexuals’. As of 2007, the government will now provide each state with funding, allowing a number of sexual reassignment surgeries on the health service to be given to Cuban Transsexuals who opt for the procedure. Cuba saw its first marriage between a gay man and transgender woman in August 2011.
Since 1994, the age of consent in Cuba is sixteen, for both heterosexual and homosexual sexual relationships.
According to the US Department of State 2009 Human Rights report, ‘there was no discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care’, however there was still a large amount of stigma in society and from authorities; police sweeps in known ‘gay’ areas are not uncommon and there still exists a significant amount of discrimination and intolerance towards these minority groups. As yet there is no law in place that protects homosexuals from discrimination and marginalisation.
A report from 2003, states that independent organisations are forbidden to advocate for LGBTI groups. An example of this can be seen when on July 28 1997 the Cuban Government shut down the organisation ‘The Cuban Association of Gays and Lesbians’ in Havana and arrested all the members. Although mentioned in various documents, information regarding NGOs, for example, the Félix Varela Centre, the Martin Luther King Centre and the Cuban Federation of Women is not available.
In 2004, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) noted that homosexuals at that time were still ‘afraid of meeting and organising themselves’. In 2011, it was reported that many LGBTI people conceal their sexuality due to the ‘macho-male culture’ that exists in Cuba. There are no specific gay social clubs but private parties and functions are commonplace.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
No records could be found of any NGOs working within Cuba focusing on the rights of LGBTI. Readers who have more information on this are encouraged to get in touch with the contact below.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We currently have no Country of Origin Specialists on LGBTI for Cuba, but would welcome suggestions
Researched by: Christina Haneef and Guillaume Cliché-Rivard