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Revellers at last year's annual gay pride parade in Cuba@MaryMurrayNBC via Twitter

Cuba to hold mass gay wedding to promote LGBT rights

Activists want this to be a first symbolic step, even though equal marriage isn't legal in the country

This weekend Cuba will finally witness its first gay marriage – even though it’s not legal.

As part of Cuba’s annual gay pride parade, gay rights activist and daughter of President Raul Castro, Mariela Castro, will be holding a symbolic mass gay wedding. Castro is hoping to raise awareness of gay rights and with enough support change the current legislations restricting equality for the LGBT community.

Speaking to the BBC, the President’s daughter said: “We can't do a wedding, but we wanted to have a very modest celebration of love with some religious leaders. In the future we'll see what more we can do.” 

She added that "there is a fear that [same-sex marriage] will tear Cuban society apart", but explained her belief that "it will create cultural and ideological enrichment" instead. 

The country hasn’t always had a great rep for treating the LGBT community with respect after President Castro sent gay people to labour camps in the 1959 revolution. Harsh, right? Two years after he stepped down as president in 2008, he apologized for his actions and admitted he was wrong to discriminate. Over the last few years, massive efforts have been made to bring equality to the LGBT community.

Some progress has been made since, with sex reassignment surgeries now available for free on the government. Cubans also elected Adela Hernandez, the first transgender person to win a seat in political office. But equality remains some way off. 

In a new law introduced in 2013, politicians outlawed workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But Castro voted against the policy as it did not cover prejudice based on gender identity. 

Hopefully, if the campaign gains enough support the Cuban government will not only make gay marriage legal, but stop discrimination against the trans community while they're at it.

(h/t BBC)