Cuban political leader and advocate of gay and lesbian liberation, Mariela Castro, was an invited foreign guest and participant in the festivities and discussions during the WorldPride celebration in Toronto in late June 2014.
Mariela Castro is the director of the National Center for Sexual Education in Cuba (CENESEX). Castro and CENESEX have greatly helped to sustain and lead the fight against homophobia in Cuba. She is also an elected member of Cuba’s parliament, the National Assembly.
She spoke at several events that were part of the WorldPride program and she attended the huge World Pride Parade.
During the WorldPride events in Toronto, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Syd Ryan, awarded Mariela Castro the OFL’s International Workplace Rights Award. Ryan motivated the award to Castro, citing, in part, the major gains registered by Cuba’s new labour code. It bans discrimination and violence in the workplace based on sexual orientation.
Art Young, in a message to the Socialist Voice Circle listserve, reported that “At a public meeting on June 22, Mariela Castro gave a refreshingly frank presentation of the trajectory of the Cuban revolution on these issues, noting both the progress that has been made and the struggles that are ongoing. She related these issues to a non-dogmatic, liberatory vision of a socialist society.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCWCanada), which facilitated her trip to Canada, posted this video of her talk on its website.