Gay man marries transsexual woman in Cuban first

Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:33pm EDT
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By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - A gay dissident and a transsexual woman married on Saturday in what was said to be a first for Cuba, then draped themselves in the rainbow flag of gay pride and rode through the streets of Havana.

In a simple civil ceremony surrounded by much hoopla, Ignacio Estrada, 31, and Wendy Iriepa, 37, signed a marriage certificate, exchanged rings and kissed before a state official, who wished them much happiness.

It was not technically a same-sex marriage, which is prohibited in Cuba, and drew no interference from authorities

because Iriepa is legally a woman after undergoing Cuba's first state-sanctioned sex change operation in 2007.

But the wedding, held on Fidel Castro's 85th birthday in what the couple had called a "gift" to the former leader, was aimed at advancing homosexual rights in Cuba and tinged with politics as some of Cuba's best-known dissidents participated and U.S. diplomats attended in a public show of support.

It also signaled changing attitudes on the island, where homosexuals were placed in camps in the 1960s for being "counterrevolutionary" in a part of history that prompted a mea culpa from Fidel Castro last year.

Applauding supporters, a throng of reporters and dozens of curious Cubans awaited the couple as they arrived at a government marriage office in the Havana suburbs.

The bride, wearing a strapless white wedding dress, made an exuberant arrival in a 1950s Ford convertible, sitting up on the backseat and holding the gay pride flag high with both hands as she smiled with happiness.   Continued...

<p>Gay rights activist and dissident Ignacio Estrada and transexual Wendy Iriepa salute waving a LGBT flag from a convertible car after their wedding in Havana August 13, 2011. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan</p>