Defiance and Arrests at Cuba’s Gay Pride Parade

Defiance and Arrests at Cuba’s Gay Pride Parade

HAVANA — Chanting “Long live a diverse Cuba” and carrying rainbow flags, Cuban gay rights activists held an unauthorized pride parade in Havana this weekend despite a warning against it by the Communist government, which called it subversive, in a highly unusual show of civil disobedience in the one-party state.

More than 100 Cubans marched from Havana’s Central Park to the seafront boulevard before being stopped by dozens of security officials.

At least three activists were arrested by plainclothes police officers, and others were ordered to disperse because the march did not have an official permit.

Activists had called for their own parade after the state-run National Center for Sex Education, or Cenesex, last week abruptly canceled its 12th annual conga against homophobia, Cuba’s equivalent of gay pride.

The national center denounced the alternative parade as a “provocation,” and several activists said that they had received threats either anonymously on social media or from state security in person not to attend — not that it stopped them.

The march on Saturday was the second such event organized independently of state institutions — previously a rare occurrence in Cuba — in just over a month, although the previous one, in defense of animal rights, had received a permit from the authorities.

“This moment marks a before and an after for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, but also for Cuban civil society more generally,” Maykel González Vivero, an independent journalist and L.G.B.T. activist, said of the pride parade.

“Social media is playing its role, and civil society demonstrated it has strength and can go out onto the streets if necessary,” he said. “And from now on, the government will have to take that into account.”

After the cancellation, Cenesex, led by Mariela Castro, the daughter of the Communist Party leader, Raúl Castro, said in a statement that certain groups had been planning to use the event to undermine the government, emboldened by the escalation of aggression by the Trump administration against Cuba and against Cuba’s leftist ally Venezuela.

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