- (Reuters/Desmond Boylan)
A marriage between a gay man and a transgender woman - the first wedding of its kind in Cuba has taken place Saturday, with commentators saying it shows how Cuba’s attitude has changed in recent years towards gays and transsexuals.
“This is the first wedding between a transsexual woman and a gay man,” said the groom, Ignacio Estrada.
Estrada believes the event is a victory for the gay community.
“We celebrate it at the top of our voices and affirm that this is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba,” he said.
Homosexuals were clamped down upon in Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, with some being fired from government jobs, others being jailed, and others still being sent to work in camps or put in exile.
The wedding was held on Fidel Castro’s 85th birthday.
“[The wedding] is a birthday present to Fidel Castro to remind him of the atrocities he committed against the Cuban gay community, above all in the 1960s,” commented Estrada to U.S.-based Radio Marti.
The “bride” Wendy Iriepa arrived at a Havana wedding hall wearing a full white wedding gown with flowers in her hair and holding a gay pride flag.
Iriepa is legally a woman after sex change surgery in 2007. The operation was part of a pilot program making gender-reassignment procedures part of the country’s universal health care system.
Today Cuba is much more tolerant of gays, although traditional views against homosexuals have not been completely eliminated.
Interestingly Fidel Castro’s niece, Mariela Castro is currently the most prominent gay rights activist and directs the National Sex Education Center.
"One of our accomplishments has made it possible for Wendy to get married," she said.
Fidel Castro in recent years has apologized for the treatment of the gay community during the 1960s.
However, even though the transgender wedding was a reason for celebration among gays in Cuba, it has added to the discomfort for Cuban Christians who strongly oppose homosexual behavior.
“As Christians we believe that this is something that is condemned by God, because the word of God says in the book of Genesis that man and woman were created,” Yuri Castellanos, Cuban pastor of the First Baptist Church of Yaguajay said to The Christian Post.
“What they are gaining is nothing less than the wrath of God,” Castellanos concluded.