BY NOREEN FAGAN – Ignacio Estrada is a noted dissident, a gay rights advocate
and now the husband of Wendy Iriepa, a trans woman. This weekend Estrada and Iriepa made the
news when they tied the knot, in what is seen as Cuba’s — a
country where same-sex marriage is banned — first gay wedding.
gift for Fidel Castro, “to remind him of the atrocities he committed against
the Cuban gay community, above all in the 1960s."
Last year the former leader apologized for the persecution
of gays under his rule, calling it a “great injustice.”
In Castro’s early years as president, homosexuality was
considered devious, along with other forms of alternative expression — like rock ’n’ roll.
Many gays, lesbians and trans folk were fired from their government jobs,
jailed, sent to work camps or forced into exile.
Today Cuba is much more tolerant. Since taking over the
presidency from his brother in 2006, Raul Castro has introduced a series of gay
His daughter Mariela is a prominent gay rights activist. She
also happens to head the National Centre for Sex Education, where Iriepa had her
sex reassignment surgery, paid for by the state.
An article in the UK’s Guardian quoted Mariela’s words at a transgender
event the night before the wedding:
"One of our accomplishments has made it possible for
Wendy to get married,” she said. “It seems she found the love of her
life, and we wish her many congratulations, because all of our work has been for
this, the well-being and happiness of our sisters."