OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Cenesex Director Dr. Mariela Castro Espín speaking during a press conference alongside Chilean transgender actress and singer Daniela Vega. Photo: Alejandro Ernesto/EFE

The 10th Cuban Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which will see a range of activities held in different parts of the island May 3-20, is this year dedicated to the prevention of bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual and gender identities in school spaces.

Once again, Cuban activities to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT, May 17), will be an opportunity for raising awareness and debating the prejudices that persist within society.
Speaking during a press conference, Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), noted that it is a question of promoting a change of mentality and attitude among people who exclude, reject and isolate those with non-heteronormative sexual orientations or gender identities.

Under the theme: “For Schools without Homophobia and Transphobia: I Include Myself,” this 10th edition of the event will address an issue that has been identified in social, legal and medical sciences research in Cuba. “We are not engaged in this battle because it is a huge problem, but because it is a problem, and therefore it must be made visible. The biggest obstacle is that there is not enough awareness that these issues exist, nor the knowledge to identify at what point this type of phenomena are expressed and their various manifestations, from the most explicit to the most subtle. Today it is a challenge for Cuban institutions to further these types of studies,” the Cenesex director explained.

She highlighted that with the support of the Ministry of Education and different civil society organizations, a broad set of strategies aimed at educating the population, focused on the responsibility of each community and school to tackle discrimination, has been developed.

Dr. Castro Espín stressed that schools “should be one of the safest places, because they are where our children spend the most time. Therefore they must be spaces in which all people feel welcomed, respected, loved and well treated; and where children learn to respect, love, and coexist with people with characteristics different from their own.”

She added that next year’s IDAHOT activities will also focus on school spaces, specifically teacher training schools and careers in education, as one of the identified areas for work within the National Sexual Education and Health Program.

Manuel Vázquez, deputy Cenesex director, noted that the 10th Cuban Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia features a wide and varied program, which includes a large number of academic and cultural activities in the Cuban capital, as well as in Villa Clara, the event’s host province.

He referred to the conferences, workshops and panels to be held, which will address issues related to activism, health and sexual rights in school spaces, among other topics, as well as the photographic exhibitions by Cuban and foreign artists, the presentation of a commemorative seal to mark the 10th edition of the event, the Diversity film festival, and the traditional Gala and Cuban Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia, among other activities.

Ministry of Education representative Alcides Alejandro Roca Zayas stressed that actions aimed at ensuring healthy, responsible, happy sexual relations and eradicating all types of violence within the country’s over 10,000 educational institutions are a key priority today.

Meanwhile, Chilean transgender actress and singer Daniela Vega stated: “What happens in Cuba is encouraging; that we should have such strong institutional support, the ability to rethink human diversity as something valid and positive. I invite you to continue working for gender equality, to continue working together with honesty and affection, because this is the path we have as human beings to be happier. Rebellion, dignity and freedom: these three things define a human being.”

The 10th Cuban Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia defends the strengthening of values based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination in our society; and is thus oriented toward the entire Cuban population, not the LGBTI community exclusively.