Cubans plan mass symbolic gay, transgender wedding

Tue May 5, 2015 3:18pm EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban gay rights activists led by the daughter of President Raul Castro plan a mass symbolic wedding on Saturday to promote acceptance of gay and transgender Cubans in a country once notoriously hostile toward them.

The ceremony will be part of an annual gay pride parade and will be symbolic because same-sex marriage is illegal in Cuba, Mariela Castro told reporters. She said it would also be low key because Cuban society is still uneasy about full rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"We can't do a wedding, but we wanted to have a very modest celebration of love with some religious leaders," said Castro, head of the National Sex Education Center and a member of Cuba's National Assembly. "In the future we'll see what more we can do."

The participating Cuban religious leaders will be evangelical Christians, she said. Cuba's predominant religion is Roman Catholicism.

The ceremony was inspired by the mass wedding of more than 100 couples at the World Pride event in Toronto last June, Castro said.

Castro said she also wanted other Cubans to be able to share the experience she and her husband had of a spiritual but unofficial ceremony blessed by a religious leader.

Among those attending on Saturday are Roger LaRade and Silvia Gonzalez of Toronto's Eucharistic Catholic Church, which is independent of the Roman Catholic Church and took part in the Toronto ceremony.

Cuban gays have made great strides in recent years, largely because of Mariela Castro's political standing, but same-sex marriage and civil unions remain illegal.   Continued...

Mariela Castro, director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, National Assembly member and daughter of Cuba's President Raul Castro, (C), walks down the stairs after a press conference in Havana, May 5, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer