An independent group of transgender activists in Cuba denounced for the first time, on Monday, LGBTI discrimination on the island before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), however, did not participate in the meeting, in which the lawyer James L. Cavallaro and other members of the — Tracy Robinson and Felipe Gonzalez — listened for an hour to the testimony of several speakers, such as Juana Mora Cedeno, from Free Rainbow; the transgender Sisy Montiel from the Transfantasy Network, and Carlos Quezada, from the Institute on Race Equality and Human Rights.
Quezada acknowledged the “visibility” of the subject in Cuba, lamenting that it is associated with one name, that of the daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro. “However, such visibility at the international level contrasts with the real human rights situation for members of the LGBTI community in Cuba,” he explained. “Members of the independent community in defense of LGBTI rights in Cuba wonder what would happen with the visibility of the issue on the island, if Mariela Castro were not in Cenesex,” he added.
The activists Cedeno and Montiel have petitioned the Cuban authorities to avoid discrimination based on sexual orientation, with no response. Both also affirmed that they are victims of police surveillance and the tapping of their phones and added that agents of State Security questioned them about their possible participation in the last Summit of the Americas.
Cedano highlighted that the lack of official data on the rights of LGBTI people, which has been collected in independent surveys. These surveys have put into relief the discrimination and abuses against the community, including by the Cuban authorities themselves.
The activist pointed out the discrimination in the workplace and denounced the impunity enjoyed by these discriminatory attitudes towards homosexual, lesbian and transgender people.
Sisy Montiel, sentenced to 17 years for “female mannerisms,” talked about the marginalization from an early age of young boys who want to dress like girls, warning that this condition forces them to leave school and thus end up in prostitution.