clearn.png
Monday October 14th, 2019 9:28PM

Cuban gay rights groups hold unauthorized march in Havana

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HAVANA (AP) — Gay-rights activists organizing on social media held an unauthorized march Saturday down eight blocks of one of Havana's main thoroughfares before they were stopped by police.

The march was the second by a non-governmental organization in Cuba in slightly more than a month. That's highly unusual in a country where the only legal civil society groups are de-facto arms of the Communist government. Any sort of unofficial march or demonstration has long been met with a swift and overwhelming police response.

On April 7, more than 400 animal-lovers received an official permit and peacefully marched more than a mile through Havana, shouting slogans and waving signs calling for an end to animal cruelty.

Saturday afternoon's gay-rights march received no such permit but police and plainclothes state-security agents allowed it to proceed from a gathering point in Havana's Central Park, along the Prado boulevard until it reached the Malecon, the capital's famous seaside promenade.

A handful of marchers were arrested when they attempted to push through a massive police presence and continue onto the Malecon.

"It was a complete success because we got so many people together despite all the expectations of government interference," said Raul Soublett, a 26-year-old gay rights activist. "It's historic."

The march was organized largely using Cuba's new mobile internet, with gay-rights activists and groups of friends calling for a march over Facebook and WhatsApp after the main government-run gay rights organization, the Center for Sex Education, canceled a Saturday march. The government group known its Spanish acronym CENESEX said it was canceling its annual Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia because unnamed groups were attempting "to distort the reality of Cuba and use our Conga to discredit, divide and substitute the true meaning of the event."

In response, activists called for the Saturday gathering at 4 p.m. in Havana's Central Park, a plaza in the heart of the capital's historic center.

Some gay-rights activists said online that police had tried to prevent them from leaving their homes Saturday with threats of unspecified repercussions. But more than 100 assembled and marched, chanting "It could be done!" and "Diverse Cuba!" and waving rainbow flags.

"This is because we don't want to lose our rights to public space," said Lidia Romero, 49, who works in a private design store.

"We're not here in opposition to anybody," Soublett said.

Cuba repressed homosexuals in the decades after its 1959 revolution, sending many to forced-labor camps, but the government has since barred anti-gay discrimination and CENESEX, led by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Communist leader Raul Castro, has been internationally recognized for campaigning for gay rights.

However, a CENESEX-endorsed push for gay marriage was removed from a constitutional reform this year after objections from many Cubans, including the country's growing ranks of evangelicals.

CENESEX never clearly explained why it was cancelling the conga but said tensions with the Trump administration were a factor.

The U.S. has recently tightened the embargo on Cuba as part of a push to topple the allied Venezuelan government, and the Cuban government typically cracks down on internal dissent when it feels threatened.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Cuban gay rights groups hold unauthorized march in Havana
Gay rights activists using social media organized an unauthorized march down eight blocks of one of Havana's main thoroughfares before they were stopped by police
7:00PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Alyssa Milano calls for sex strike, ignites social media
Actress Alyssa Milano got people riled up on social media with a tweet calling for women to join her in a sex strike to protest strict abortion bans passed by Republican-controlled legislatures
6:49PM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: 3 car chiefs ejected after cars fail inspection
The car chiefs for Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson were ejected after their cars failed inspection for a second time ahead of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway
6:40PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Venezuela's Guaidó asks for relations with US military
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó says he's instructed his political envoy in Washington to immediately open relations with the U.S. military
4:32PM ( 2 hours ago )
Turkish opposition journalist hospitalized following attack
A journalist critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and its nationalist allies has been hospitalized after being attacked outside his home
4:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
Polish nationalists protest US over Holocaust claims
Thousands of Polish nationalists have marched to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, protesting that the U.S. is putting pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust
3:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
Activists give jailed moms a Mother's Day gift: bail
For Mother's Day, dozens of mothers are getting time with their children instead of time behind bars
1:45PM ( 5 hours ago )
Trump has long seen previous US trade agreements as losers
President Donald Trump's combative approach to trade has been one of the main constants among his often-shifting political views
12:50PM ( 6 hours ago )
Beto O'Rourke plans 'reintroduction' as 2020 buzz fizzles
Beto O'Rourke readies 'reintroduction' as 2020 buzz fizzles
11:57AM ( 7 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Alyssa Milano calls for sex strike, ignites social media
Actress Alyssa Milano got people riled up on social media with a tweet calling for women to join her in a sex strike to protest strict abortion bans passed by Republican-controlled legislatures
6:49PM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: 3 car chiefs ejected after cars fail inspection
The car chiefs for Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson were ejected after their cars failed inspection for a second time ahead of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway
6:40PM ( 31 minutes ago )
28 to remain on Scientology ship in Curacao in measles scare
Authorities in Curacao say that 17 crew members and 11 passengers must stay aboard a ship owned by the Church of Scientology that was quarantined in the Dutch Caribbean island following a confirmed case of measles
6:27PM ( 44 minutes ago )
Nadal loses to Tsitsipas in Madrid as clay slump continues
Rafael Nadal's slump on clay continued with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 loss to ninth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the semifinals of the Madrid Open on Saturday
6:14PM ( 57 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pagenaud wins 3rd IndyCar GP with daring pass
The Latest: Pagenaud wins 3rd IndyCar GP with daring pass
6:12PM ( 59 minutes ago )