Cuba and LGBT Rights
Cuba and LGBT Rights
ERNESTO ANTUNEZ 08.08.15
LGBT rights in Cuba are perplexing from an ideological standpoint.
Communist theory itself is unclear on the issue of homosexuality.
Logically, one would assume that, given communism’s emphatic support of
abortion, disdain for the family unit and rejection of religiously based
morality, its position on homosexuality would that of acceptance or
indifference. However, communist views on same sex relations are divided
into two opposing camps.
The small obscure non-ruling communist parties of the 1st world have
positions that range from acceptance to full support of the LGBT
community. On the other hand the large ruling communist parties of the
3rd world have positions on the LGBT community that range from apathy to
persecution. What is the reason for this discrepancy within the
The answer is simple: location, location, location. The West, since the
industrial revolution, has been infinitely more welcome culturally to
homosexuality and other alternative lifestyles than the 3rd world where
communists have come to power in countries like Afghanistan, Cuba,
Vietnam, and Angola.
The ruling communist parties in countries like Afghanistan, Cuba,
Vietnam, and Angola have been faced with the task of governing highly
patriarchal, conservative and homophobic populations. They began to
revise orthodox communist theory to fit with the cultures on a variety
of issues including homosexuality. Homosexuality had always been seen as
a tertiary issue by the Old Left and not as an all-encompassing issue by
their New Left fellow travelers in the West and therefore these rapid
ideological accommodations were made rather painlessly and without much
This is precisely what occurred in Cuba. The relatively free love
between gays in post-revolutionary Havana quickly turned into long
stretches of torture and forced labor in the Military Units and to Aids
inside Cuban concentration camps. The Cuban Communist Party, in order to
keep its moral prestige and legitimacy intact under Cuba’s culture of
machismo (as well as to placate the Soviets who had made their own
similar anti-homosexual revisionism under Stalin), went after
homosexuals more than any of Cuba’s previous reactionary dictators like
This was done even though many notable top Cubans officials at the time
were heavily suspected of being homosexuals such as Alfredo Guevara,
Celia Sanchez, Armando Hart, Melba Hernandez and Jose Martinez Paez. In
fact it is an open secret in Cuban society today (as it was in the 26th
of July movement in the Sierra Maestra) that the current president of
Cuba, Raul Castro, is a homosexual. He assuredly must be not the only
one within Cuba’s elite.
Therefore the Cuban Communist Party made an ideological concession in
exchange for control creating institutionalized homophobia in the 1960s
and 1970s. Its militant atheism already had alienated it from a deeply
religious Cuban populace. Toeing the Marxist line and turning a blind
eye to homosexuals or even actively supporting them would have turned
them into social pariahs.
The Party would have been unable to recruit members at a time when it
needed them the most in order to create the bureaucratic apparatchiks
and Cuban nomenklatura needed to efficiently complete the dual jobs of
both running and transforming Cuban society. Homosexuals became another
group added to the counter-revolutionary black list with the full
blessing of a Cuban people that despised and hated them.
The political reality of LGBT rights today in Cuba is that the heavy
handed persecution of gays prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s has
dissipated due to pragmatism rather than dogma. Today’s Cuban Communist
Party through its unofficial street system of sociolosimo (bribes,
patronage, and control over jobs and food stocks) has entrenched itself
so deeply into Cuban society that it no longer fears a cultural backlash
from an exhausted and apathetic Cuban populace.
Homosexuality has become an opportunistic political football for the
Cuban regime that is repeatedly shedding all its ideological trappings
and seeks only power and survival. Therefore LGBT rights is an issue
that will keep mutating in the foreseeable future according to the whims
of Cuba’s elite (three steps forward, two steps back or vice-versa)
regardless of Marxist dogma.
Source: Cuba and LGBT Rights –