PHILADELPHIA — The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro will be allowed to travel to the U.S. to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy, officials in the U.S. said Tuesday, reversing a previous decision to reject her visa request.
Mariela Castro will attend the Equality Forum’s annual conference on civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group’s executive director.
Lazin, who had blasted the State Department’s travel denial last week, said organizers are “delighted” at the change of heart.
“She is unquestionably the leader for progressive change for the LGBT community in Cuba,” Lazin said Tuesday. “Her accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.”
A U.S. official confirmed that Castro has been authorized to go to the event. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because visa records are confidential.
High-ranking Cuban government officials a nd Communist Party members cannot enter the U.S. without special dispensation. But Cuban academics, scientists and entertainers are finding it easier to visit because President Barack Obama’s administration has relaxed travel restrictions.
Article continues belowCastro, a married mother of three, is the niece of retired Cuban strongman Fidel Castro. She is also the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, part of Cuba’s public health ministry, and is the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.
Castro has instituted awareness campaigns, trained police on relations with the LGBT community and lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba’s parliament in February.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, she will speak about her experiences and receive an award from the Equality Forum.