Florida-based news website Cubanet is reporting that a young transgender woman has been beaten to death in police custody in Cuba.
¨Eighteen-year-old Leidel Luis, who was known as Jessica, originally from the province of Santiago de Cuba and who lived with her partner named Yariel in Las Tunas, died after receiving a brutal beating in Guáimaro in Camaguey, southern Cuba.
It is alledged that she was picked up at a traffic stop 4 January by police calling her "faggot, nigger and disgusting."
The report is sourced to a prison inmate, Rolando Castro Sanchez who names those he alleges beat Luis to death as police officers Galindo Yarian Larena, Juan Ramon Lorenzo, their commanding officer Heriberto, and the sector chief Boris Luis Caballero. It is alleged that her body was removed after she was found dead in her cell in the middle of the night to an unknown location.
Cuba's Communist Party Congress, which opens 28 January, will reportedly adopt pro-gay provisions. Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and the leading advocate for LGBT rights in Cuba, wrote on her blog this week that the revision of the Family Code in 2013 will include recognition of same-sex couples.
However, continuing police harassment in Cuba, including arrests, has been reported on a number gay Cuban blogs, such as that of the Reinaldo Arenas Memorial Foundation. Gay Cuban blogger Francisco Rodríguez Cruz has also condemned 'irregularities' committed by Cuban police, who, he says, have repeatedly fined visitors to a gay meeting spot in central Havana. In September a death in custody of a transgender man was reported in Havana...¨ read it all, ¨Muere Travesti Tras Golpiza Propinada Por Policias¨
Sorry to hear of this tragedy. Like us in Jamaica our Cuban brothers and sisters alike have their share of drama with the authorities although same sex and transgender aesthetics are more publicly accepted than any other island in the belt here but apparently violence is still a feature as is even in more progressive or "free" states where displays of affection are normative in a sense and legislation provides protection and recourse for aggrieved persons.
The adoption however of any pro LGBT legislation may push into over-drive the demand from the ground here in Jamaica to the promised review of the Buggery Law by the new government the People's National Party, PNP. Recently after the Prime Minister's first parliamentary address on her own mandate she said to journalists that talks are proceeding and that a timeline is not set as to when the review and subsequent conscience vote will take place, but bearing in mind the makeup of the cabinet and the all important Senate with individuals who have openly expressed anti gay views over many years one wonders if they will get pass their original positions.
We are keeping our fingers crossed things work out and as for our blogging friends there, we have you in our prayers.
Peace and tolerance