Aug. 14th, 2011

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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Cuban gay man and transgender woman marry

A Cuban man and transgender woman have married in what is being seen as the country's first "gay wedding".

Same sex marriage is illegal in Cuba, but bride Wendy Iriepa is legally a woman after undergoing one of the first state-sponsored sex changes in 2007.

Her fiance, Ignacio Estrada, is a noted dissident and gay rights activist in Cuba and is also HIV positive.

The couple said the wedding, timed to coincide with Fidel Castro's birthday, was a "gift" for the former leader.

The wedding in Havana was attended by prominent dissidents and members of the gay community.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people faced official discrimination for years in communist Cuba.

'Great injustice'
In the early days of the revolution many were sent to re-education camps to stamp out their "counter-revolutionary" values.

But homosexuality was made legal in 1970, and President Raul Castro has introduced a series of gay rights reforms since taking over from his brother Fidel in 2006.

Last year Fidel Castro himself apologised for the persecution of homosexuals under his rule, calling it a "great injustice".


Ms Iriepa, 37, had her sex-change treatment at the National Centre for Sex Education, which is headed by Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela.

"I dedicate my wedding to all those who want to have their own," she said after the ceremony.

"This is the first wedding between a transsexual woman and a gay man," Mr Estrada, 31, said.

"We celebrate it at the top of our voices and affirm that this is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba."

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, who acted as a godmother at the ceremony, said that while the marriage was not technically a gay wedding "it is the closest we have come".

"We are very happy with what happened today," she wrote on Twitter.

"It was a big step in a small Cuba".MORE
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Syria: the regime's war of attrition

The Syrian regime's response to five months of popular uprising was described by a recent report of the International Crisis Group as "slow motion suicide", resulting from a "mix of uninhibited brutality, sectarian manipulation, crude propaganda and grudging concessions".

The regime opted for a survival strategy: responding by violence and threatening the population with chaos and civil war in the event of its demise. The objective was to launch a war of attrition by playing on time to wear out any internal revolt. It chose, however, the wrong combination of brutal repression and gradual concessions. The result was a crisis of confidence which was too deep to be overcome by mere calls for national dialogue and reform.

The death toll is estimated at 2,000 civilian casualties (including more than 100 children), and 400 members of the security services. The situation has now reached a stalemate. Neither side appears to be able to defeat the other. Protests are rallying at major urban and rural centres, including Damascus and Aleppo in the last weeks. Rallies continue in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, the Idlib province, and continue to be met with massive military assaults and house to house arrests. The cities of Homs, Hama and Deir ez-Zor were brutally besieged by the regime's armed forces; hundreds of civilian casualties have fallen since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. In Deir ez-Zor, the regime was met with strong resistance by local tribesmen, including the leading Baqqara tribe who joined the opposition movements.

On July 17, the National Salvation conference held in Istanbul gathered 450 opposition figures who called for civil disobedience throughout the country. Tenets of regime survival quite naively assumed that they would effectively counter the historical meeting held in Damascus on June 27 by prominent opposition figures in the Semiramis Hotel of Damascus. The regime's so-called "national dialogue" conference held on July 10 included a few organic intellectuals and public figures which were carefully selected and summoned to contribute to the process of constitutional amendment and political reform. The strategy was to divide the opposition and maintain the status quo. Dialogue under repression was, however, firmly rejected by the opposition. MORE

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