Castro daughter says Cuba communists exclude gays

Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:24pm EST
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HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro's daughter accused the ruling Communist Party on Tuesday of discrimination against gays and said she will write a letter to its "top leadership" demanding that it end.

Her uncle, Fidel Castro, heads the party, while her father is No. 2.

Mariela Castro, a sexologist who advocates for gay rights, said the party excludes gays who want to become members.

"It is not spelled out in any statute, but implicitly they are rejected," she told reporters at the opening of a conference on sex education and therapy.

"Your ideological and party definition have nothing to do with your sexual orientation," said Castro, who is head of Cuba's National Center of Sex Education. "It's absurd, it's laughable."

She said her letter -- to be sent "as soon as possible" -- would demand that a no-discrimination policy be clearly spelled out in party bylaws.

Fidel Castro, 83, ceded the presidency to his brother Raul, 78, two years ago, but still officially heads the Communist Party.

The Cuban government, which Fidel Castro led for 49 years after taking power in a 1959 revolution, once sent gays to labor camps but ended the policy in the 1970s.

Castro, 47 and married, has led gay rights parades in Havana, and urged the government to approve gay marriage, which has not yet happened.

"We continue to confront strong prejudices," she said.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Jeff Franks and Cynthia Osterman)