Colorful march in Havana celebrates sexual diversity, opposes anti-gay discrimination

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s President Raul Castro, center, is surrounded by marchers at the start of a parade honoring International Day Against Homophobia in Havana, Saturday May 14, 2011. Headed by Castro, Cuba will hold events on the rights of homosexuals and transvestites in support of the International Day against Homophobia, celebrated annually on May 17.

Mariela Castro campaigns for gay rights and heads the government-backed National Sexual Education Center. She says the march is meant to raise awareness about discrimination.

Cuba is far more tolerant of homosexuality than in the early years after the 1959 revolution, when many gays lost jobs, were imprisoned or sent to work camps or fled to exile. The government has even began paying for Cubans’ sex-change operations in recent years.

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