Mariela Castro to push for same-sex marriage in Cuba

Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro who had supported opening the door to gay marriage in Cuba, participates in a march against homophobia on May 14, 2016 in Havana, Cuba.

Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, has said she will push the country to adopt same-sex marriage.

Castro made the comments in a press conference to mark the launch of the Days against Homophobia and Transphobia in Cuba.

Speaking to the press, the influential Cuban lawmaker, who is also the head of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, addressed the lack of marriage rights for same-sex couples in Cuba.

According to Associated Press, Castro told media that she would push for same-sex marriage as part of a constitutional reform process expected to begin in July.

She made the comments less than a month after her father Raúl Castro was replaced as President by Miguel Díaz-Canel.

(Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

Castro told reporters that LGBT activists “have the strength” to pursue change, praising Díaz-Canel’s “sensibilities and awareness” on gay issues.

Ms Castro previously infuriated social conservatives in the country by holding a ceremonial same-sex union.

Homosexuality has been legal in Cuba since 1979, but there are little anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and no partnership rights for same-sex couples.

(Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for HBO)

Cuba has a troubled history on LGBT rights.

From 1959, President Fidel Castro oversaw a regime that orchestrated the persecution and murder of LGBT people alongside other dissenters.

Homosexuals were viewed as “inherently counter-revolutionary” and homosexuality was declared a “deviation incompatible with the revolution” by Castro’s regime.

Although acceptance of homosexuality has increased, much of the country’s LGBT movement is centred around Mariela Castro, a figure who still faces enormous scepticism internationally over her high-profile role as a gay rights campaigner.

The Director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) Mariela Castro (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

Former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Mimi Imfurst in 2016 became the first American drag queen to perform in Cuba, as relations develop between the two countries.

Taking advantage of the relaxation of US sanctions, drag queen Mimi Imfurst became the first to perform a show in the country, performing on New Years Eve with help from local LGBT groups.

The culture gap was apparent from the start – with the local dancers taking part in the show having never heard Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ before.

However, the performers overcame the cultural and language gap for a groundbreaking performance “in hopes that it will inspire American and Cuban relations to continue to improve”.