US officials make U-turn on visa, allowing daughter of Cuban president to attend Equality Forum in Philadelphia, the Associated Press reports.
The daughter of Cuban president, Raul Castro, will be allowed to travel to the US to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy, US officials said on Tuesday, reversing a previous decision to reject her visa request.
Mariela Castro will attend the Equality Forum’s annual conference on civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group’s executive director.
Lazin, who had criticised the state department’s visa denial last week, said organisers are delighted at the change of heart.
“She is unquestionably the leader for progressive change for the LGBT community in Cuba,” Lazin said on Tuesday. “Her accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.”
A US official confirmed that Castro has been authorised to go to the event. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because visa records are confidential.
High-ranking Cuban government officials and Communist party members cannot enter the US without special dispensation. But Cuban academics, scientists and entertainers are finding it easier to visit because the current US administration has relaxed travel restrictions.
Castro, a married mother of three, is the niece of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She is also the director of Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education, part of Cuba’s public health ministry, and is the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.
Castro has instituted awareness campaigns, trained police on relations with the LGBT community, and lobbied lawmakers to legalise same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba’s parliament in February.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, she will speak about her experiences and receive an award from the Equality Forum.
For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/01/mariela-castro-gay-rights-award