Fidel Castro's niece Mariela Castro has
lauded President Barack Obama's support for gay marriage.
“I think he's sincere and speaks from
the heart,” Castro told roughly 200 people at the San Francisco
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center on Wednesday.
“If we're not successful in changing
these prejudices that bring stigma, discrimination, exclusion, we
cannot advance as a new society,” she added.
The 50-year-old Castro, the daughter of
Cuban President Raul Castro, heads the island nation's National
Center for Sex Education and has advocated for gay rights, in
particular the rights of transgender people.
government moves towards GLBT equality.)
Castro's visit to the U.S. was
approved by the State Department. She will attend a conference on
sexual diversity in Cuba at a conference of experts on Latin America.
The decision to grant her a visa was attacked by several lawmakers,
including New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and Florida Senator
Marco Rubio. Rubio called the decision “shameful” and a slap in
the face to pro-democracy activists in Cuba, according to a press
Castro visited the United States in
2002 while George W. Bush was in office.
“I think [gay marriage is] something
that he truly believes in … If I were a US citizen, I would vote
for President Obama,” Castro said through an interpreter.
Castro heads to New York next week
where she will participate in a conversation on international gay
rights at the New York Public Library.