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Cuba: For a Census in Which All Unions Count

In the last few months, the following slogan has accompanied the preparation process for the National Census of People and Households: “From September 15 to September 24, in Cuba we count everyone.”

Since the Census will be carried out soon, activism on blogs and social networks has intensified, particularly after a supposed change in the instruction manual for survey distributors came to light. Certain crossed out lines have made bloggers and activists in favor of sexual diversity believe that same-sex unions were originally going to be included, but now the question revolves around why they were eliminated.

Maykel González, from El Nictálope [es], asks:

Adaptación del logo oficial del Censo de Población y Vivienda en Cuba. Foto tomada del blog El Nictálope bajo licencia CC.

Adaptations of the official logo for the Census for People and Households in Cuba. Photo taken from El Nictálope under CC license.

¿Por qué se abandonó el proyecto original? ¿Quién ordenó -persona o grupo- que se eliminara una pauta incluida por los propios especialistas de la ONEI? Lo que parecía una omisión ahora es discriminación. Afirmar que las parejas homosexuales no serían admitidas era anticuado; incluirlas, luego tacharlas, es discriminatorio. ¿Los responsables sabrán que obran contra la política del Estado?

Why was the original project abandoned? Who ordered — person or group — the elimination of a guideline included by the ONEI‘s own specialists? What appeared to be an omission is now discrimination. To affirm that homosexual couples would not be admitted is antiquated; to include them, only later to cross them out, is discriminatory. Do those responsible know that they are acting against the State's policies?

In his blog, El Nictálope [es], Maykel González refers to the fact that the original manual contained the following phrase: “in this case same-sex couples are admitted, so long as they live in the same household per the Census.” A document that was subsequently circulated by the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) [es] included a list of corrections where they ordered the removal of the aforementioned phrase, to be substituted with “couples must be of different sexes.”

González considers the following [es]:

A la medianoche del 14 de septiembre oprimirán el botón y veremos el flashazo. Ya sabemos, sin embargo, que nos harán una foto desenfocada.

At midnight on September 14, they will press the button and we will see the huge flash. We already know, however, that their photo will be out of focus.

When there was still a year left before conducting the Census, Francisco Rodríguez, an activist for sexual rights known as Cuba's Paquito, commented [es] on his blog [es]:

Sería restrictivo, discriminatorio y —además— falso que las personas que conformamos parejas del mismo sexo apareciéramos como solteras o solteros, cuando en realidad vivimos en una unión de hecho o consensual, tal vez no por voluntad propia, sino por la carencia de cualquier otro tipo de vínculo jurídico posible.

It would be restrictive, discriminatory and — more so — false for those of us who form same sex couples to appear as single, when in reality we live in a civil or consensual union, perhaps not by our own will, but rather due to a lack of whatever other type of legal bond possible.

According to Mariela Castro Espín, Director of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) said,

La respuesta de la ONEI ante una solicitud de esa institución al respecto (…) es hasta ahora realizar en algún momento una encuesta nacional más detallada que abarque una información de mayor amplitud sobre toda la diversidad sexual de la población cubana y sobre la base del principio de no invadir la privacidad de las personas.

ONEI's answer to this institution's request with respect to the issue (…) has been, until now, to carry out a more detailed national survey at some point, which covers a wider range of information on the entire Cuban population's sexual diversity and on the basis of the principle of not invading these peoples’ privacy.

During a recent encounter with Cuban State press executives, the ONEI director agreed with the blog “Paquito el de Cuba” [es] and took into account that the declaration, on behalf of transexual individuals, “is a very complicated issue to explain to the students who act as survey distributors.”

In this context, the Rainbow Project [es], which defines itself as “an independent, anti-Capitalist, Cuban LGBT collective,” has distributed a flyer via email and its blog to make the fight for sexual diversity in Cuban society known.

Rainbow Project banner. Republished with permission.

Rainbow Project banner. Republished with permission.

El adjunto lo puedes imprimir, usar, discutir, compartir, o reenviar a toda persona que creas puede ser discriminada por omisión en el próximo Censo 2012 o esté interesada en la lucha contra las discriminaciones.

You can print, use, discuss, share, or circulate the attached flyer with anyone you think could be discriminated against by omission in the next 2012 Census or with anyone interested in the fight against discrimination.

Additionally, various members of the LGBT community on the island [es] and some international media sources [es] have echoed Paquito's recent proposal [es], which sets out the following:

  1. Las personas homosexuales que viven juntas tienen el derecho a declarar su unión consensual ante los enumeradores y pedir que les inscriban como pareja en el cuestionario censal, aunque luego las estadísticas de la ONEI no las contabilicen, como ya decidieron hacer de manera excluyente y discriminatoria.
  2. Los gays y lesbianas que mantengan relaciones estables con una pareja, aunque no residan en su vivienda, tienen el derecho a pedir a los enumeradores que no les registren como solteros, sino como “unidos” con otra persona de su mismo sexo.
  3. Las personas transexuales tienen derecho a declararse como mujer u hombre, de acuerdo con su identidad de género, aun cuando sus órganos sexuales sean de varón o hembra, y pedir que así conste en el cuestionario censal. Esa decisión no la pueden cuestionar los enumeradores, porque como especifica la ONEI, el Censo es por declaración, y no es necesario mostrar ningún documento de identificación para avalar la información que brinde la ciudadanía.
  1. Homosexual individuals who live together have the right to declare their consensual union before survey distributors and ask that they record them as a couple in the Census questionnaire, even if the ONEI statistics do not count them later, as they have decided to do in a exclusionary and discriminatory fashion.
  2. Gay and lesbian individuals who maintain stable relationships within a couple, even if they do not live in the same household, have the right to ask survey distributors that they not register them as single, but rather “in a union” with a person of the same sex.
  3. Transexual individuals have the right to declare themselves as a man or woman, in accordance with their gender identity, even when their sexual organs are those of a male or female, and to ask that they be listed this way in the Census questionnaire. Survey distributors cannot question this decision because, as the ONEI specifies, the Census is by declaration, and it is not necessary to show any sort of identification to back up the information that citizens give.

According to  Fernando Rasvberg's blog, the BBC correspondent in Cuba:

Este 15 de septiembre, mi esposa –que es ciudadana cubana- pondrá la bandera del arco iris en el frente de nuestra casa, sumándose a los que quieren construir una nación en la que realmente todos los cubanos y las cubanas cuenten.

On September 15, my wife — a Cuban citizen — will place the rainbow flag in front of our house, joining those who wish to create a nation in which all Cubans truly count.

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