John M. Becker

Mariela Castro Votes 'No' in Support of LGBT Rights

Filed By John M. Becker | August 21, 2014 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Cuba, gender identity, gender identity protections, Mariela Castro, workers' rights, workplace protections

mariela-castro.jpgMariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and a member of that country's parliament, has cast what some believe may be the first dissenting vote in that body since the Revolution. Castro, a noted LGBT rights advocate and sexologist, reportedly voted "no" on a workers' rights bill because she said it didn't include protections for gender identity.

NPR reports that the vote happened in December 2013, but is only now making news:

It seems that before the December 2013 vote was publicized recently in a Cuban blog, no one could recall anyone voting against a measure in Cuba's legislature. Some say a dissenting vote has simply never happened in Havana.

"This is the first time, without a doubt," historian and former Cuban diplomat Carlos Alzugaray tells The Associated Press, which says other experts shared that view.

The legislation in question was an update of Cuba's expansive Labor Code, which notably included explicit protections based on sexual orientation. But Mariela Castro said that because it didn't also specify protections for people based on their gender identity and HIV status, it was inconsistent with her beliefs.

LGBTI News says Castro explained her vote thusly:

"I could not vote in favor without the certainty that the labor rights of people with different gender identity would be explicitly recognized. There have been advances in the way things are discussed, above all the way things are discussed at the grassroots level, in workplaces, unions and party groupings... I think we still need to perfect the democratic participation of the representatives within the Assembly."

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