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Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution

Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution

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This work will help put to bed the lies and distortions propagated by the powerful United States (US) propaganda machine: that the Cuban Revolution is undemocratic, homophobic and tyrannical. My visit to and study of Cuba finds that there is no basis to these claims.

More at http://links.org.au/node/2671
This work will help put to bed the lies and distortions propagated by the powerful United States (US) propaganda machine: that the Cuban Revolution is undemocratic, homophobic and tyrannical. My visit to and study of Cuba finds that there is no basis to these claims.

More at http://links.org.au/node/2671

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Terry Townsend, Editor on Jan 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Cuba & the struggle for LGBTI rights

Why are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people oppressed?
Oppression is an adjunct of women¶s oppression

Feudalism, Asiatic mode of production
LGBTI people oppressed differently under different modes of production Feudalism enacted state repression of sexual diversity and gender variance.

Spanish feudalism homophobic
Indigenous Latin America and the Caribbean was no stranger to same-sex attractions or cross-dressing. Cuba was invaded by the Spanish in 1492. The Spaniards were profoundly homophobic The Spanish Catholic Inquisition prosecuted thousands for sodomy or bestiality.

Latin sexuality writer Max Mejía ³conquerors treated µsodomy¶ as a special Indian sin and hunted it down and punished it as such on a grand scale. They orchestrated crusades like the Holy Inquisition, which began burning sodomites at the stake as a special occasion, as in the memorable auto-da-fé of San Lázaro in Mexico City.´ The Spanish colonial authorities in Cuba castrated those they considered ³sodomites,´ and forced them to eat their own testicles coated with dirt.

Colonialism and later imperialism bought anti-homosexual and antitrans laws to Cuba.

Neo-colonialism ± the United States ruled Cuba
Until 1959 Cuba was a United States neocolony. U.S corporations controlled 40% of sugar production, 75% of arable land« they owned 50% of the railways, 100% of the oil refineries and 90% of cattle ranchers. U.S banks held more than a quarter of bank deposits. Prior to the revolution, homosexuality in Cuba was illegal. The Cuban Penal Code enacted in 1938, originated from Spanish laws, was in force till 1971. The 1938 Law penalised ³habitual homosexual acts, homosexual molestation, scandalous, indecent behaviour, [and] ostentatious displays of homosexuality in public. Capitalist relations had consolidated the sex-forprofit industry.

1950s Rainbow Cuba
Havana's gay male underground -- some 200,000 -- was a purgatory of prostitution to American tourists, domestic servitude, and constant threats of violence and blackmail. Havana of the 1950«was not easy for the workingclass or petty-bourgeois homosexual.

1st January 1959 uprising = a popular revolution. Consolidated political and economic power in the hands of Cuban poor and away from the U.S. ³Land reform restricted ownership to 1000 hectares, with few exceptions. Between August and October 1960, 41% of land was expropriated, 95% of industry was nationalised, 98% of construction, 95% of transport, 75% of retail and 100% of wholesale trade´.

Education, rent, health
10% maximum on rents was introduced, free health care, Between 1958 and 1989 life expectancy rose from 55 to 74 years. It is estimated that If the Cuban revolution hadn¶t happened, 1 million people would not have lived past 5

Women¶s & black rights enshrined
After the revolution, all laws discriminating against blacks were removed. Women¶s rights were enshrined from January 1959. Women won near full equality under the law, including pay equity, the right to child care, abortion and military service. A number of lesbians benefited from these programs. The Mafiacontrolled prostitution trade was broken. However, LGBT people did not fare as well as women and AfroCubans in the initial stages of the revolution.

Early Cuba and rainbow liberation
‡ Cuba is anti-gay can be summarised into three main arguments. UMAPs, Mariel migration, HIV sanatoriums Cuban revolution threw out the Mafia. So in the early stages, both the reactionary gay underworld and progressive queers had their spaces shut down. Both groups got thrown together for social comfort and sexual pleasure. The CIA targeted the community. One famous case of Rolando Cubela, homosexual leader in revolutionary army, but was recruited by CIA to try and assassinate Fidel. Homosexual bars and La Rampa seen as counter-revolutionary organising spaces and began to be treated as such by the revolutionary government. ‡



Military Units to Aid Production
Between 1965 and 1968, homosexual men were among those incarcerated in austere Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP).

Ian Lumsdan ³Homosexuals were among those most affected by the UMAP camps, but there is no evidence that these were created with homosexuals exclusively in mind. Together with homosexuals the camps contained such sexually incompatible companions as Jehovah Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists, conscientious objectors to military service whose religious faiths are notoriously homophobic.´

Fidel 1992 'I am opposed to any form of repression, contempt, scorn, discrimination with regards to homosexuals. It is a natural tendency and must be respected.'

Advances from 1970s«Education Congress
Homosexuality no longer seen by the revolutionary leadership as a fundamental problem in Cuban society but, rather, viewed as a form of sexual behavior requiring study. For the first time in an official document, homosexuality was referred to in medical and psychological rather than criminal terms. However the Congress also launched a policy of ³parameters´ which meant people had to meet specific dress-code and behavior regulations to gain access to certain jobs and public positions

Decriminalisation takes place
Then in 1977 the Cuban National Group for Sexual Education was established, headed by a Cuban physician, Celestino Lajonchere, and an East German sexologist, Monika Krause. The new Cuban National Group for Sexual Education worked primarily with those involved in health and education In 1979 homosexual acts were decriminalised but failed to legalize manifestations of homosexual behavior in the public sphere and left intact antigay laws dating to the Cuban Social Defense Code of 1939. It also left in place legislation against "public scandal" or "extravagance," thereby continuing to provide a rationale for gay paranoia. In 1979 transgender issues began to be discussed. In 1987 the offence of homosexual acts in public places was removed from Cuba¶s penal code, but homosexual behavior still suffered legal restrictions until the 90¶s

Sex education
More advances in 1974 the Federation of Cuban Women demanded sex education had to be done. 1975 National Institute of Sex Education was established 1979 ground breaking sex education publication 'The life of males and females'- had been first published in the East German Democratic Republic.

Mariel boatlift
In 1980, with economic sanctions biting, more than 100,000 Cubans (some counter-revolutionaries, petty criminals and homosexuals) left Cuba in a boat-lift for the US. With several thousand selfidentified homosexual Cubans among the 120,000 who left the island over a two-month period in 1980 from the port of Mariel and sailed to the U.S

Throughout the late sixties and early seventies, Cuban gay men and lesbians continued to migrate in small numbers to the United States via a third country, as direct migration was still prohibited. Family reunification was another shared goal. There was, however, a uniquely gay reason for leaving: the age-old, prerevolutionary tradition in which families encouraged gay offspring to emigrate in order to avoid family stigma

US targets the community
The US immigration unofficially lifted the part of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 that had been used to bar and deport those it labled 'sexually deviant' - but only for homosexual Cubans. ³Lesbians and gay men were particularly vulnerable,´ they explained. ³The CIA targeted the homosexual intelligentsia and worked to persuade its members to defect, promising generous academic grants and publishing contracts.

Pre-revolution health care in Cuba was for the rich. After the revolution half of all Cuban doctors left the island and went to capitalist countries. In 1981 AIDS in the US first diagnosed, and massive protests erupted in 1983 across the country, demanding free health care. Right-wing demonized the health crisis as bought on by the 'gay plague', and that Aids was a 'gay disease.¶ In 1985 first case diagnosed on the island and from then Cubans spared no expense and mobilized against AIDS, not against people with AIDS 1983 Doctors tested more than 135,000 Cubans for HIV

Aids, HIV
In 1985 Cuba spent $3 million to buy reactive agents and equipment to set up labs in blood banks, hygiene and epidemiology centres around the country. They also screened the island's entire blood supply.

AIDS and Sanatoriums
1986 Cuba opened 13 sanatoria that provided care for 99 people, only 20% of whom were thought to have contracted HIV through same-sex loving. Involuntarily quarantined people. Cubans in the sanatoria's could leave, visit families, friends etc, but had to come back to the clinic for 24 hour care.

Current AIDS care
Currently Cubans diagnosed with HIV are given a one week µLiving with HIV¶ course ± a drug and education support program. They are paid a full-time weekly wage to attend the course and afterwards, they return to their job. An µoutpatient¶ system is run parallel to the option of living/ participating in the sanatorium system. Some gay couples choose to live together in the sanitarium. HIV infection rates in Cuba are 0.1%, the lowest in the region, with 3,200 cases out of a population of 11 million. Anonymous testing is available and most HIV cases are diagnosed within six months of exposure.

Queer life improves«
In 1993 the age of consent for homosexuals in Cuba became 16 years, equaling heterosexuals. In 1993, Strawberry and Chocolate, a film criticising Cubans' intolerance of homosexuality, was produced by the government-run Cuban film industry. It was the only film the state produced in 1993 and according to Larry R. Oberg in an article ³Art and Life: µBefore Night Falls¶ and the status of gays and lesbians in Cuba´ was widely popular and played simultaneously at 10 or 12 theatres in Havana for months to lines several blocks long In 1995 Cuban drag queens led the annual May Day procession, joined by two queer delegations from the U.S. U.S activists joined with members of Cuba's Action Group for the Liberation of Sexual Choice and Expression to carry a 10-metre piece of the rainbow flag at the front of the May Day march.

In the 90s ± Cuban queer life improves«
In 1995 ³Gay Cuba´ was produced by Sonia de Vries' , a series of interviews with gay and lesbian Cubans and shown at the Havana International Festival of Latin America Cinema to public and critical acclaim. In 1996 Pablo Milanes, a popular Cuban singer who¶d been incarcerated in a UMAP in the 1960s, dedicated a song about gay men to all Cuban homosexuals. In December 2000, at the film festival in Havana, easily half of the Latin American films shown had gay themes

Queer life improves
Head of the IGLA ³Sexual minorities seem to be living better times now in Cuba. In the medium term, even better than the rest of Latin America.´ In December 2006 a transgender bill was presented to Parliament from the Cuban National Institute for Sex Education. FREE Trans operations.

International Lesbian and Gay Association¶s assessment
2004 International Lesbian and Gay (ILGA) Latin American and Caribbean representative found ³neither institutional nor penal repression exists against lesbians and homosexuals. And that ³there are no legal sanctions against LGBT people and transformismo (changing from one sex to another) is well accepted by the majority of Cubans.´ Conversely, his study revealed that while this was the case ³people are afraid of meeting and organizing themselves.´ But that ³It is mainly based on their experience in previous years, but one can assume that this feeling one can assume this feeling will disappear in the future if lesbians and gays start to work and keep working and eventually get support from the government. (CENESEX is offering this support).

ILGA¶s assessment
ILGA concluded ³Sexual minorities seem to be living better times now in Cuba. In the medium term, even better than the rest of Latin America.´ Despite these gains, recently Cuba abstained when the UN Commission on Human Rights voted to delay the debate on the Brazilian resolution, a sexual orientation rights statement put by Brazil to the United Nations in 2003

Recent advances
2004 free gender reassignment operations begin to be carried out on a greater scale 2007 Cuba commemorated International Day of Action Against Homophobia with CENESEX leading a debate around sexual diversity with film screenings. Rallies have been held every years since. Ads on state TV µhomophobia is the illness, not homosexuality¶

LGBTI rights better in Cuba than Australia or the US. Homophobia inherited from colonialism and imperialism. Advancing every step. UMAPs horrid, but for three years. No mass jailing of queer Cubans. US targeting, revolution under siege, but onwards!

Books and Journals
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Arguelles.L, and Rich.B.R, Homosexuality, Homophobia, and Revolution: Notes toward an Understanding of the Cuban Lesbian and Gay Male Experience, Part I, Source: Signs, Vol. 9, No. 4, The Lesbian Issue (Summer, 1984), The University of Chicago Press, pp. 683-699 Arnold.A, Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections, José Martí Publishing House, Havana, 1999. Baird. Vanessa, A No-nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity, Verso, London, New York, 2001 Brewer.Pat, Socialism and the struggle for the rights of lesbians and gay men, New Course Publications, Australia, 1995 Fitzgerald.F., The Cuban Revolution in Crisis ± From Managing Socialism to Managing Survival, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1994 Lumsden. I, Homosexuality, Society, and the State in Mexico, Canadian Gay Archives, Toronto, 1991 Roman.P, People's Power: Cuba's experience with representative government, Westview Press, 1999 ©Resistance Books 2000, Cuba As Alternative ± An Introduction to Cuba¶s Socialist Revolution, , Published by Resistance Books, Chippendale 2008 Resolution adopted by the 16th National Conference of the Democratic Socialist Party, Socialism and the struggle for the rights of lesbians and gay men, New Course Publications, Sydney, 1995 Saney.I, Cuba A Revolution in Motion, Fernwood Publishing, NY, 2004 Slee. C., Cuba: How the workers and peasants made the revolution, Resistance Books, Chippendale, Australia, 2008 Stiglitz,J., ³Incentives and Institutions in the Provision of Health Care in Developing Countries: Toward an Efficient and Equitable Health Care Strategy, Speech, The World Bank IHEA Meetings, Rotterdam, 7th June, [Online] Available: http://www.worldback.org/knowledge/chiefcon/articles/rotter.htm Ramonet, I. Cien Horas con Fidel: convervaciones con Ignacio Ramonet, Oficina de publicaciones del Consejo de Estado, 2nd edition, Havana, 2006 Newspaper Articles/ Online Journals Acosta, D, 2007, µProposed reform would give Cuban gay couples equal rights¶, caribbean360.com/ [Online], Available: http://www.caribbean360.com/News/Caribbean/Stories/2007/06/18/NEWS0000004516.html Austin Cline, about.com guide to atheism since 1998, [Online], Available: http://atheism.about.com/b/2004/10/17/this-date-in-history-spanish-inquisition3.htm Blazquez. A, Sutton.J, March 2007, µAmerica's Left and the Double Standard Over Gays in Cuba¶, avail online, [Online], Available: http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/3/1/215217.shtml Bjorkland.Eva, µHomosexuality is Not Illegal in Cuba, But Like Elsewhere, Homophobia Persists¶, Swedish Cuba, Summer 2000, Swedish-Cuban Association, [Online], Available: http://www.globalgayz.com/cuba-news97-02.html Carpenter.Dale, 2001, µGay Cuba Libre!¶, Outright, March, [Online], Available: http://www.indegayforum.org/news/show/26636.html D¶Amato.P, 2007, µRace and Sex in Cuba¶, International Socialist Review, Issue 51, January-February 2007, [Online], Available: http://www.isreview.org/issues/51/cuba_race%26sex.shtml Feinberg, L, 2007, µCuba surpasses world on same-sex, trans rights¶, Workers World, [Online], Available: http://www.newscloud.com/read/86538 Feinberg, L, 2007, Lavender & Red, Part 1-150, Workers World, [Online], Available: http://www.workers.org/2007/world/lavender-red/ Feinberg.L, 2007, µBehind the 1980 'Mariel boatlift', Workers World, [Online], Available: http://www.workers.org/2007/world/lavender-red-95/ Green Left Weekly, µHiroshima and Nagasaki: Worst terror attacks in history,¶ Green Left Weekly, August 3rd 2005, [Online], Available: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2005/636/34157 Green Left Weekly, µCuba: Artists demand end of blockade¶, Reprinted from Granma International, 23 November 2007, [Online], Available: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/733/37961 Fletcher, K., Green Left Weekly, µCUBA: US employs weapons of mass migration¶, 14 May 2003, [Online], Available: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2003/537/30315 Hechavarria.L., Hatch.M, 2001, Gays in Cuba, From the Hollywood School of Falsification, A Movie Review of ³Before Night Falls´ , October, [Online] Available http://www.walterlippmann.com/lgbt-cuba-003.html Encyclopaedia of GLBTQ culture, This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc. Chicago, µLatin America¶, [Online] Available http://www.glbtq.com/socialsciences/latin_america_colonial.html

Books and Journals
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ MEDICC Review Health and Medical News of Cuba, 2006, Vol VIII, No. 1, March/April, ³Interview with Mariela Castro, MS Director, National Center for Sex Education´, [Online] Available: http://www.medicc.org/medicc_review/0406/mr-interview.html Oberg. R., Larry, ³Art and Life: µBefore Night Falls¶ (film) and the status of gays and lesbians in Cuba´, Gay Cuba News & Reports 19972002, Global Gayz.com, [Online] Available: http://www.globalgayz.com/country/Cuba/view/CUB/gay-cuba-news-and-reports-1997-2002 Queer Heritage ± a Timeline, Aaron Rush, [Online] Available: http://www.aaronsgayinfo.com/timeline/FtimeBC.html Reyes. Hector, Cuba: the Crisis of State Capitalism, International Socialist Review, Issue 11, Spring 2000, [Online] Available: http://www.isreview.org/issues/11/cuba_crisis.html Roques, Richard, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism, ed.181 -October/November, England, 2004, [Online] Available: http://www.ratb.org.uk/frfi/181_gay.html Sanchez. C., 2004 µCarlos Sanchez, ILGA Latin American Caribbean representative tells us about his Cuban experience¶, International Gay and Lesbian Organisation website, [Online] Available: http://www.ilga.org/news_results.asp?LanguageID=1&FileCategory=10&ZoneID=5&FileID=26 µSodomy laws in the United States¶, [Online] Available: http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/214915 µSodomy Laws Around the World¶, [Online] Available: http://www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/index.htm US Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services Responses, 1999, Cuba: Status of Homosexuals, August 9th, [Online] Available: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/print?tbl=RSDCOI&id=3ae6a6a40 Wearing,M., 2006, µFamily Firsts Anti-Gay Campaign, 2006, Sydney Star Observer, Issue 840, November [Online], Available: http://www.ssonet.com.au/display.asp?ArticleID=5906 Documentaries Anderson.T., Confronting Aids/HIV in Cuba, 2006 Interviews Current Cuban Consul-General for Australia, Nelida Hernandez, 15 October 2006, Surrey Hills

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