Raul Castro’s daughter granted travel rights to attend LGBT conference

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, has been given the go-ahead to attend an LGBT conference in the US, where she will receive an award for her contributions to gay rights, after initially being barred from travelling within the US.

Last week the US State Department said she would be refused entry to visit Philadelphia, where she was due to pick up an “International Ally for LGBT Equality” award and attend a conference on civil rights for the LGBT community, sponsored by the Equality Forum.

The State Department bars Cuban diplomats from travelling more than 25 miles from central Manhattan.

However, officials said today that after looking at her case again: “the restriction on her visa has been lifted, which will allow her to travel”.

Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin said on Thursday: “We find it shocking that our State Department would deny freedom of speech, particularly at an international civil rights summit, to anyone, let alone the Cuban president’s daughter.”

Mr Lazin added that Mariela Castro had agreed to speak on a panel about Cuba on 4 May and was to accept an award for her LGBT activism at a dinner in Philadelphia on the same night.

He did not expect any visa problems because she had been granted permission to attend an academic conference in San Francisco last year.

Mariela Castro, the niece of retired leader Fidel Castro, is director of Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education. She has campaigned for same-sex marriage on the island.

The US has maintained a near total trade embargo against the communist country since 1960.