MIAMI – U.S. authorities have refused to issue a visa to Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter to attend a May 2-5 forum on LGBT in Philadelphia that will be particularly dedicated to the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Cuba.
The announcement was made by the Equality Forum, organizer of the conference, which said that Mariela Castro, director of Cuba’s Cenesex sex-education institute, did have a visa to travel to some meetings that will be held next month at U.N. headquarters in New York.
“Over the past 11 years, Equality Forum has invited leaders of the featured nation to attend. For those who needed a visa, all past visas have been approved,” the group’s executive director, Malcolm Lazin, said in a statement.
“It is shocking that our State Department would deny Ms. Castro travel to a civil rights summit – especially one held in the birthplace of our democracy that enshrines freedoms of speech and assembly,” Lazin said.
Several months ago Mariela Castro accepted the Equality Forum’s invitation to speak at next week’s event, as well as to receive a prize for her work in favor of the rights of LBGT people on the Communist-ruled island.
“Mariela Castro runs the leading Cuban LGBT organization that offers support and services to LGBT youth and seniors, provides HIV and STD education and prevention, and combats homophobia,” Lazin said. “These are shared values that deserve the right to be heard regardless of political systems.”
Last May, the State Department’s decision to allow Mariela Castro to travel to San Francisco for a conference of the Latin American Studies Association sparked criticism from some Cuban-American politicians. EFE