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Cuba to vote on sweeping Gay rights bill in June
Cuba to vote on sweeping Gay rights bill in June
Courtesy of 365Gay.com

Cuban lawmakers will vote in June on a bill that would make the country one of the world's most progressive in LGBT civil rights.

The draft legislation would make it illegal to discriminate in jobs and housing against Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transpeople. It would recognize same-sex domestic partnerships, although not grant marriage or adoption rights, and it would allow Transsexuals to have identity cards showing their true sex. In addition the bill would require the government health service to pay for sex reassignment surgery.

The measure has been championed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro. She heads the government-funded National Centre for Sex Education and has been a longtime LGBT rights advocate.

Mariela Castro said she would have liked to have had the bill include marriage but she and LGBT leaders believed it would be met with opposition and could jeopardize the bill.

"A lot of homosexual couples asked me to not risk delaying getting the law passed by insisting on the word marriage," she told the BBC.

"In Cuba marriage is not as important as the family and at least this way we can guarantee the personal and inheritance rights of homosexuals and Transsexuals," she told the BBC.

Last month Cuba's Culture Minister Abel Prieto said that he supports Gay marriage.

Gays have had a long struggle for recognition in Cuba. There are no Gay clubs in Havana, although one bar does offer a weekly "Gay night."

Prior to the Castro revolution gays were regularly rounded up and jailed. Even after the revolution many Gays were sent to forced labor camps for "re-education and rehabilitation."

The camps were abandoned in a few years but Gays often were denied jobs and in the 1980s, there were government-orchestrated mass rallies denouncing homosexuality.

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