Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

Cuba Censors Axe Same-Sex Couples

Isbel Diaz Torres

Here’s where the censors crossed out the possibility of non-traditional couples being included in the upcoming Census 2012.

HAVANA TIMES — Horrendous! With the stroke of a pen they have managed to give a homophobic skew to the instructions of the 2012 census takers!

One of the paragraphs that defined who would be considered partners was crudely struck out.

This information was reported by journalist Maykel Gonzalez Vivero in his personal blog El Nictalope (“Hawkeye”), on Wednesday, September 5. It made it to my email thanks to that good brother and journalist Francisco Rodriguez Cruz (who has his own blog called Paquito el de Cuba).

I took off running to find a copy of the publication, and it was indeed exactly like Maykel had said.

The sentence in question is found on page 47 of the “Census Taker Instructions.” In this manual, blue ink is used to cross out the sentence that had read: “Same-sex couples are allowed, provided they are cohabiting in the same household.”

In its place, someone handwrote in the margin: “PARTNERS MUST BE OF DIFFERENT SEXES.”

Of course this doesn’t involve the personal initiative of some homophobic individual. Maykel tells us that he was shown the official directive by Ovidio Bermudez Acosta, the census director in Sagua la Grande (in the center of the island).

The National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) sent a set of instructions titled “Methodological Details and Errata Identification,” in which the next to the last page calls for the striking of the original language and its replacement with the discriminatory sentence.

From what I’ve been able to find out, this has also occurred in Villa Clara, Matanzas and Havana, which makes it pretty obvious that this is a national policy.

Jimmy and Isbel with Isabela.

Thus, a document developed by specialists at ONEI was subsequently amended.

So who was it that was so bothered by the inclusion of gay couples? Who on this island decided to conceal a reality from others who are trying to understand it?

How will it be possible to establish policies to recognize rights that have been wrongfully denied if, when we get the chance, an overly enthusiastic “censor” can decide who should or shouldn’t be considered partners in this country?

First, this approach directly violates the recent “Guidelines of the Communist Party.” But for someone like me, who isn’t active in those ranks, the most important consideration is that it violates the rights of a large number of people who live in this country.

It makes us invisible. We’re erased from the map. They claim that we’re alone, that we’re incapable of forming families. We don’t count as loving couples. They say we aren’t what partners “should be.”

The truth is that they can’t make us invisible. We’re now developing strategies so that they’ll count us, even if they don’t want to.

Activists on the island are bringing this information to the attention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people so that all of us will be aware of what’s happening. We’re also asking them to declare themselves in consensual unions in those cases where this is so.

If the census taker ignores or modifies our responses (as it’s apparently planned) we can refuse to finish answering the questionnaire. Nobody can come along and tell us who Cuban partners “should be.”

 

2 thoughts on “Cuba Censors Axe Same-Sex Couples

  • It is saddening. Maykel himself told me about it last night and sent me a link to his blog. Hopefully this will be ammended soon. What about taking to the streets and carrying out our own census?

    Reply
  • I do not agree with the decision to change the census question. But to suggest “We’re erased from the map. They claim that we’re alone, that we’re incapable of forming families. We don’t count as loving couples. They say we aren’t what partners should be” exagerates the reality of both government policy (see Cenesex) and, as best I can read it, the majority of Cuban public opinion. Careful with your comments Isbel; your credibility may suffer.

    Reply

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