Mariela Castro gets permit to travel to LGBT forum in U.S.

Reversing its previous rejection, the U.S. State Department has decided to allow the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, sexologist Mariela Castro, to attend a gay rights forum in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education and a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage and other gay rights, she received a U.S. visa to attend several gatherings in May at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan.

But the State Department initially denied her permission to travel to Philadelphia to attend the Equality Forum’s Global LGBT Summit on Saturday and receive the group’s International Ally for LGBT Equality Award.

Department officials initially held her to the same restrictions as all Cuban diplomats assigned to the U.N. — no travel more than 25 miles from Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, adjoining Central Park, without advance permission.

The Cuban government imposes similar restrictions on U.S. diplomats in Havana — no travel outside the province of Havana without advance permits from the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Both sides generally issue the permits on a reciprocal basis.

The Equality Forum, a nonprofit international LGBT rights organization, draws many personalities and politicians to its annual summits. Each year the summit features a different country — and this year it’s Cuba’s turn.

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