Cuban officials ‘humiliate’ LGBT activist and block him from travelling to US

The Cuban government has blocked an LGBT+ activist from leaving the country and travelling to the US, despite travel restrictions being lifted in 2013.

Leandro Rodríguez García, director of the Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights and a ‘vocal critic’ of the Cuban government, was due to fly to Miami from Havana on August 15.

In a Facebook post seen by the Washington Blade, he said an immigration official approached him in the departure lounge shortly before boarding.

After asking to see his travel documents, Rodríguez said the official began to “offend me with inappropriate words” and “abused the power of his position” in front other passengers.

He denigrated me as a human being

“He began to use offensive words (against me) and that humiliation was not enough for him,” said Rodríguez. “He was making inappropriate comments at me in a loud voice when he took me out of the departure lounge.”

Rodríguez’s boarding pass was reportedly destroyed while he was still in the departure lounge.

“He denigrated me as a human being as well as a human rights activist and defender of the LGBTI community in Cuba,” he added.

Jose Marti International airport in Havana (ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty)

“[This] lasted all the way to an office where he had me standing and he did not stop his offences, which lasted until he knew that my flight had taken off.”

Rodríguez was given no reason for this treatment, simply being told “the computer says that you cannot leave.”

It wasn’t until the flight had departed that officials confirmed Rodríguez had been banned from leaving Cuba, even though he had recently travelled outside the country to get a US visa.

To make matters worse, Rodríguez later realised that his luggage had been tampered with.

“The locks were broken without my permission, nor in my presence,” he said. “My belongings were not in order as I had put them for my trip.”


Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban former President Raul Castro, participates in Pride in Havana, 2018. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty)

LGBT+ rights in Cuba

The Cuban government is currently developing a new constitution as part of a package of reforms intended to modernise the country.

Although government-imposed travel restrictions were lifted in 2013, The Washington Blade heard that that citizens who speak against the government are still sometimes barred from leaving the country.

In a previous interview, the former president of the Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights said that Cuban authorities prevented him from leaving the country in 2017.

“They are violating our rights to be able to travel freely,” he said.

Cuban Pride-goers carry a banner with the photo of late Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro that reads: I am part of the Revolution, I am also Fidel (Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty)

Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel said he was in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in Cuba, suggesting that the country’s modernisation was extending to LGBT+ rights.

But earlier this year LGBT+ Pride marches were cancelled due to “new tensions.”

Ministry of Public Health said it was acting in line with “the Party, the State and the Revolution.”