Cuba's LGBTQ community celebrates same-sex marriage with pride conga
People take part in the gay pride conga to celebrate the day against homophobia and transphobia, in Havana, on May 13, 2023. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE / AFP)

HAVANA, Cuba (AFP)— Around 200 Cubans marched in Havana on Saturday to the rhythm of conga, a popular dance, protesting against homophobia and transphobia, and celebrating the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Chanting "socialism yes, homophobia no", demonstrators swayed their hips and beat rhythmically on drums as they cheered the 'Family Code', passed last September.

The code permits surrogate pregnancies as long as no money changes hands and legally recognises same-sex adoptions, as well as several fathers or mothers in addition to the biological parents.

It also defines marriage as the union between two people, rather than that of a man and a woman, while boosting the rights of children, the elderly and the disabled.

"It was a debt the revolutionary process owed" to Cuba's LGBTQ community, Ana Clara Leon, a student parading with a rainbow flag tied around her waist, told AFP.

Yoilan Balon, a coordinator for the Transcuba network promoting trans rights, said: "It was something that all gay people were waiting for, who wanted to consummate their couple relationship."

Diana Pena, who organises the network's youth outreach, said the conga pride parade suited Cuba's spirit.

"It is the conga of pride, we Cubans are very much about partying, conga, fun and this way we can express our diversity."

The march was led by Mariela Castro, daughter of one of Cuba's revolutionary leaders Raul Castro and a supporter of the Family Code, alongside Lis Cuesta, wife of President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Cuba's machismo culture was exacerbated in the 1960s and 1970s, when the government ostracised the LGBTQ community, sending many to militarised agricultural labour camps.

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