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Raul Castro’s Daughter Sponsors Ground-Breaking Same-Sex Blessing Ceremony in Havana

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Coming from a history of much unrest in terms of politics, civil disputes, and difficult international relations, Cuba is starting to show signs of understanding in terms of its own community relations.

On May 9, a day before Cuban President Raúl Castro was scheduled to visit the Pope at the Vatican, President Castro’s daughter Mariela headed a parade for the Cuban LGBT community and a blessing ceremony, among other events, that brought together many same-sex couples in the capital of Havana.

Mariela, who happens to be the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana and an activist for LGBT rights in Cuba, headed the landmark blessing event, exposing the Cuban people to a glimpse of tolerance in a country where same-sex marriage has yet to be legalized. During the ceremony, clergymen from the U.S. and Canada presided over same-sex couples, blessing their union and being sure not to call the ceremony a wedding, for fear of legal retribution.

“It’s a dream for the Cuban gay and transgender community that one day it won’t be just a symbol and we can get married, because we’re also part of this changing world,” Alain Morales said as he embraced his partner of 14 years, Luis Enrique Mederos, the Huffington Post repored.

Under the Cuban dictatorship of Fidel Castro, Raul’s brother, those within the LGBT community faced much persecution and harassment. Since that power shift, Fidel has admitted to regretting his past actions in his treatment of gays, leading to the granting of more rights for them in the community.

The parade, blessing ceremony, art galleries, and other public events were all leading up to the grand celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17.

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