Legislating by Whim

To reach the doors of the National Assembly with a legislative proposal is a nearly impossible feat, in light of Cuban law. But for the descendants of the Castro brothers it’s a matter of whim.

For two years Mariela Castro, Director of the National Sex Education Centre (CENESEX) and daughter of the president of the Council of State and Ministers, has promoted a series of legislative initiatives. Her efforts are part of the campaign against homophobia.

Earlier this year she announced that one of her proposals is a legal directive on gender identity, to allow transsexuals to officially change sex, without the necessity of undergoing surgery. The National Assembly approves laws. The Council of State adopts legal directives.

There is no doubt she used her family tie to the president of the Council to achieve her goals. An option that other social activists do not have.  Do they call this social, political, and legal equality?

It is no secret that Mariela Castro has the ability to make legislative proposals, simply by being the daughter of her dad. We remember the initiative presented to the Cuban Parliament in 2002 by Osvaldo Payá, which was rejected.

She is also working on the presentation of a draft bill to the National Assembly of People’s Power. The legislative initiative aims to amend the current Family Code, allowing the legalization of civil unions between homosexuals.

There is no legal basis for her to make proposals. CENESEX, which she heads, is not a large social organization. It is therefore not one of the entities recognized by the Constitution of the Republic for proposing laws to parliament.

Cuban homosexuals are not organized in state-recognized associations. This means that they do not have a remote chance of having representation in parliament, and therefore of participating in the political life of the nation.

It is clear that without the intervention of Castro’s daughter, the upper echelons of power would never have been interested in touching the subject of the rights of this group. As if they really have an interest!

The Spanish magazine Interview published a special about repression against homosexuals in Cuba, entitled “The Revolution is for Machos.” The publication denounced the jailing of 700 homosexuals who had committed no crime.

Apparently the plight of these people doesn’t matter to CENESEX, dedicated at the moment to deploying a campaign called “gayfriendly” to promote tolerance of homosexuals.

The situation compels us to ask: What guarantee does this social group have of exercising their rights, if the rest of the human prerogatives recognized in the legal system are seriously violated? The law is not a matter of whim. Homophobia will not be eliminated by legislative formulas.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: Tomás A.

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