Fidel takes blame for gay persecution

The latest country to talk about
legalizing same-sex marriage will not become the new gay and lesbian travel
destination anytime soon.

What is the latest country to talk
about legalizing same-sex unions? That bastion of civil rights — Cuba.

Fidel Castro took the blame for a
wave of homophobia launched by his revolutionary government in the 1960s, but
said it happened because he was distracted by other problems, in an interview
with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.

“Five decades ago, because of
homophobia, homosexuals were marginalized in Cuba and many were sent to
agricultural or military labour camps, accused of being counterrevolutionaries,”
he said. “We had so many terrible problems, problems of life or death, you
know, you do not pay enough attention.”

He said personally he had no
prejudice and that many of his oldest friends were gay and lesbian.

But he said, “No, if someone is
responsible (for the discrimination) it is me.”

Mr Castro, 84, said he was busy in
those days fending off threats from the US, including attempts on his life, and
trying to maintain the revolution that put him in power in 1959.

“We had so many and such
terrible problems, problems of life or death,” Castro said. “In those
moments I was not able to deal with that matter. I found myself immersed,
principally, in the crisis of October [Cuban missile crisis], in the war, in
policy questions.”

Homosexuality was decriminalized in
Cuba in the 1990s, and sex-reassignment surgery for transgender began being
performed free in 2008.

The slogan for the last World Day
Against Homophobia in Cuba was “La homosexualidad no es un peligro, la
homofobia sí” or “Homosexuality is not a threat, homophobia is.”