Mariela Castro

Cuba could soon legally recognise same-sex unions, at least according to Mariela Castro, niece of former president Fidel Castro.

Castro, who is the director of the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education and a vocal supporter of LGBTI equality, told Spanish broadcaster Cadena Ser that the county is studying a proposal on the matter.

“This is a historic opportunity, and I think we’re close to having draft legislation. We’ve been working on this issue for a long time, with a lot of activism. We’re starting to see results and a political solution,” said Castro.

The subject of same-sex unions is expected to be addressed in the country’s Communist Party conference scheduled for January next year, reports CNN.

Castro also revealed that gays and lesbians are free to serve in the Cuban military, adding that “a socialist society can’t be a homophobic one”.

Castro led a campaign that saw the state agreeing in 2008 to pay for sex reassignment surgery and to allow transgender people to legally change their gender.

Private and consensual gay sex was legalised in 1975 in Cuba but in the early days of the Cuban revolution homosexuality was seen as a product of capitalism and the government sought to eradicate it.

Gays and lesbians were arrested, often without trial, and placed in forced labour camps.

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