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A Kissing Sit-In and An Open Letter for LGBT Rights in Cuba

Foto Jorge Luis Baños, usada con permiso.

Photo by Jorge Luis Baños, used with permission.

At the “Second Kissing Sit-In or ‘Besada’ for Diversity and Equality” in Havana, Cuba, people “put the Revolution in a Kiss”, and these kisses most certainly are revolutionary. However, the second edition of the “Besada” comes at a time when controversy has arisen around the exclusion of discrimination based on gender identity in the new Labor Code.  

The Rainbow Project or Proyecto Arcoiris, an anti-capitalist and independent project, organizes the activities in Havana, Cuba, on June 28th, LGTB Pride Day, to commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots, which marked a historical moment for LGBT rights which occurred in New York in 1969.

On the same date in 2012, Arcoiris organized the first “Besada,” and nearly 50 people participated in that event in the vicinity of the sports arena Ramon Fonst, in the municipality Plaza Havana. This time it will was held in Plaza Vieja, in the capital city.

The organizers explained the rational behind this flash mob style action:

Besarse en el espacio público debería ser derecho de toda persona, pero para muchos ojos constituye escándalo público, si no ocurre entre heterosexuales. Al besarnos todos y todas, por amor o fraternidad, ejercitamos nuestra igualdad ciudadana y ponemos en evidencia los dobles raseros morales que generan la homofobia, el sexismo, las lógicas discriminatorias que marcan las raíces de nuestra cultura y debemos cambiar.

Kissing in public should be everyone's right, but many view it as a public scandal, if it happens between other individuals besides heterosexuals. When we as men and women kiss, for love or fraternity, we exercise our equality as citizens and we display the double standards that spark homophobia, sexism, the discriminatory attitudes that mark the root of our culture and which we must change.

In addition to being published in the blog of Arcoiris, the message was distributed on various internet sites, among them Cubainformacion.tv. Furthermore, several magazines published on the Island, such as La Jiribilla and Cuba Contemporánea, have written about this event.

The letter convening the event adds: 

Porque Revolución es cambiar todo lo que deba ser cambiado, y defendemos la idea de una sociedad anticapitalista, revolucionaria y democrática. Ven y celebra que la Ley No.116 Código de Trabajo protege por primera vez a las personas homosexuales. Ven y reclama explicación pública a la eliminación de la identidad de género y el estatus frente al VIH en la misma Ley, aunque la Asamblea Nacional lo aprobó.

En esta cita no importan el color de la piel, el género, la identidad de género, las creencias religiosas o políticas, la orientación sexual, el origen territorial, la discapacidad ni cualquier otra distinción, sino la fe en la igualdad de todas las formas de amar, formar familia, producir, comprometerse… todas las formas de HACER PATRIA.

28 de junio, pon la Revolución en un Beso.

Because a revolution means changing everything that needs change, and we defend the idea of an anti-capitalist, revolutionary and democratic society. Join us and celebrate the Labor Code, Law No 116, and for the first time, the protection of homosexuals. Come and demand a public explanation addressing the elimination of gender identity issues and status regarding HIV, in the same legislation, although the National Assembly did not approve it.

On this date, the color of your skin, gender, gender identity, religious or political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, disabilities nor any other distinction do not matter, but what does is the faith in equality of all forms of love, forming a family, reproducing, being committed… all forms of BEING PATRIOTIC.

On June 28th, put the Revolution in a Kiss

The context in which the “Besada” is taking place is the recent enactment of the new Labor Code, which excluded the recommendation of Mariela Castro Espín, member of the Cuban Parliament and renowned Cuban investigator, of including gender identity as a motive of discrimination in the work environment. 

Several journalists and bloggers have expressed their disagreement on the outcome of the new Labor Code, which went from being discussed to being published in the Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba (Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba) without the approval of the final changes. Castro Espín addressed this issue on the National Center for Sex Education's website,(Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual ‘Cenesex'), the institution which she also leads.

Members of Project Arcoiris sent a letter to Esteban Lazo Hernández, chairman of the National Assembly of People's Power. Below we share this document in its entirety:

La Habana, 23 de junio de 2014

Año 56 de la Revolución

A: Esteban Lazo Hernández

Presidente de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular

Compañero:

La Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba acaba de publicar el texto definitivo de la Ley No.116 Código de Trabajo, y quisiéramos esclarecernos sobre los motivos de la ausencia en esta norma jurídica de elementos que muchas personas esperábamos hallar, luego de la discusión y aprobación de esta ley por nuestro máximo órgano legislativo, el cual usted preside.

Todo nuestro pueblo pudo ver por la Televisión Cubana el debate que sobre esta legislación aconteció en el Parlamento durante sus sesiones ordinarias de diciembre de 2013. Aquel análisis incluyó varias propuestas de la diputada Mariela Castro Espín, quien fue portavoz de un grupo de planteamientos hechos por trabajadores y activistas como parte del amplio proceso de consulta popular del anteproyecto de Ley.

Entre esas sugerencias estaba la inclusión de la identidad de género y el estatus frente al VIH como motivos por los cuales no resulta admisible discriminar a ningún ser humano en el ámbito laboral, dentro de los principios fundamentales que rigen el derecho al trabajo, en el inciso B del artículo 2 de ese cuerpo legal.

Amongst those suggestios was the inclusion of gender identity and HIV status as

Sin embargo, a pesar del apoyo a esos pronunciamientos por otras diputadas y diputados, y de la intervención del primer vicepresidente cubano Miguel Díaz-Canel, quien abogó por tener en cuenta lo allí dicho y encargar esa encomienda a una comisión parlamentaria, esos dos aspectos no aparecen en la ley ahora publicada.

El asunto nos alarma no solamente porque ello implica un presunto desconocimiento de la voluntad expresa de varios integrantes de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, así como por lo grave que esto pudiera ser en relación con los principios y procedimientos democráticos que debieran regir el funcionamiento del Parlamento.

Pero incluso nos preocupa más la trascendencia humana y política de estas adiciones que fueron ignoradas sin explicación aparente, pues son las personas con una identidad de género trans las que más discriminación social y laboral sufren en nuestro país, y tampoco es un problema del todo resuelto el estigma y los prejuicios hacia las personas con VIH/sida, también en cuanto a sus capacidades profesionales y el derecho que les asiste a ejercer en cualquier tipo de empleo.

Por tanto, como ciudadanos y ciudadanas de este país, y también en nuestra condición de activistas por los derechos humanos y sexuales que defendemos la idea de una sociedad anticapitalista, revolucionaria y democrática, solicitamos una explicación pública sobre los criterios que siguió la mencionada comisión parlamentaria para excluir de la versión final de la Ley No.116 las citadas propuestas de modificación al proyecto de Código de Trabajo.

Agradecemos de antemano cualquier gestión que usted pueda realizar para responder con la mayor agilidad y total transparencia a nuestra respetuosa y cívica petición.

Saludos cordiales,

Integrantes de Proyecto Arcoíris. Colectivo LGBT, anticapitalista e independiente de Cuba.

Correo: proyectoarcoiriscuba@gmail.com. Blog: http://proyectoarcoiris.cubava.cu/

                                                                                                                                                       

Havana, June 23, 2014

56th year of the Revolution

To: Esteban Lazo Hernández

Chairman of the National Assembly of People's Power

Colleague:

The official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba has recently published the definitive text of the Labor Code, Law No 116, and we would like to be clear regarding the reasons for the absence of certain elements that many individuals wished to have seen on this legal provision, after the discussion and approval of this law, by the highest legislative body, which you are head of.

Our entire town watched, on Cuban Television, the debate concerning this legislation as it went through Parliament during its ordinary meetings in December 2013. That specific analysis was followed by several proposals from the Parliament member Mariela Castro Espín, who was the spokesperson with a set of approaches from workers and activists as part of the public consultation process of the drafting of the Law.

Amongst those suggestions were the inclusion of gender identity and HIV status as motives for which it is never admisible for a human being to be discriminated against in a work environment, which fall within the fundamental principles that govern our labor rights, in section B, Article 2 of that legal document.

Nonetheless, despite the support of these declarations from other members of the Parliament, and the intervention of Cuban vice president Miguel Díaz, who advocated for taking into account the already mentioned and entrusted the mandate to a parliamentary commission, those two aspects do not appear in the already published legislation.

This issue alarms us, not only because it implies an alleged ignorance of the will expressed by several members of the National Assembly of People's Power, as well as how serious this could be in relation to the democratic principles and procedures that should apply to the Parliament's ability to function.

What most concerns us is the human and political importance that were ignored without any apparent explanation. The transgender individuals are the ones who deal with the most social and labor discrimination in our country, nor has the stigma and prejudice towards individuals with HIV/aids been completely resolved, and also in regards to their professional abilities and the right to pursue any type of employment.

Henceforth, as citizens of this country, and also as human and sexual rights activists standing up for the idea of an anticapitalist, revolutionary and democratic society, we request a public explanation regarding the criteria which the already mentioned parliamentary commission followed in order to exclude, from the final version of Law No 11, the proposal to amend the draft of the Labor Code.

We thank you in advance for your efforts in responding quickly and with full transparency, to our very respectful and civic request.

Kind regards,

The members of Proyecto Arcoiris. LGBT Collective, anti-capitalist and independent of Cuba.

E-mail: proyectoarcoiriscuba@gmail.com. Blog: http://proyectoarcoiris.cubava.cu/

 

 

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