HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba draped its health ministry with a giant rainbow flag on Monday to mark International Day against Homophobia, in a key year for LGBT+ rights as the Caribbean country decides on a new family code that could approve same-sex marriage. Cuba, which sent gays to correctional labor camps in the early years after its 1959 leftist revolution, made considerable advances in LGBT+ rights in the 2000s and 2010s, despite the widespread persistence of machismo. The island nation introduced the right to free sex-change operations, banned workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and started holding annual congas against homophobia – Cuba’s equivalent of gay pride. Forced to suspend the conga this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Havana added a touch of gay pride through the giant rainbow flag instead. Authorities say they will project the flag onto two colonial castles in Old Havana at night as well. “I never thought I would live to see the flag of the sexual diversity movement hung next to the Cuban one on such an important institution as the health ministry,” said Teresa de Jesus Fernandez, coordinator of the national network of lesbian and bisexual women, after posing for a photo with the flag. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who as a young provincial leader bucked party orthodoxy by backing an LGBT-friendly bar, wrote on Twitter on Monday the country was committed to guaranteeing all rights for all people. Many members of the LGBT+ community say, however, they have been frustrated by a slowdown in the pace of change in recent years while a handful of other Latin American countries have moved forward with approving gay marriage.
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