• Byron Motley


Updated: Oct 1, 2018

Cuba's Center for LGBTQ Rights and Women's Issues


Francisco - photographed by Byron Motley

All Images ©ByronMotleyPhotogrpahy - All Rights Reserved.

Located in the Vedado section of Havana, CENESEX (Cuban National Center for Sex Education) is Cuba’s version of an LGBTQ center. Government funded, CENESEX campaigns and works on LGBTQ rights, women's issues, and, has been at the forefront on AIDS prevention education.

Until the efforts of CENESEX, the Cuban government had been less than stellar in dealing with gay rights issues and its efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. Even though many early-infected persons were heterosexual aid workers who had returned to the island from work in other developing countries, it was still considered by the government and society at large as a “gay problem”.

In the mid-1980’s, HIV+ Cubans were even quarantined to treatment centers. A lot of educational opportunities were missed and outright ignored. The government was doing little, so the gay community stepped up to the plate and began the efforts rectify the problem. Taking the HIV issue head on, mostly through the work of the CENESEX organization, safe sex classes are now frequent and HIV prevention pamphlets and condoms are commonly given out.

The government fully backs the work of CENESEX and now Cuba can boast that it has the lowest HIV rate in the Americas and one of the lowest ratios in the world. Further progressing Cuba’s current stance on homosexuality, was an admission in 2010 by Cuba’s iconic former president Fidel Castro acknowledging that past transgressions against homosexuals whilst he was in power was “a great injustice”. Taking responsibility for the mistreatment for decades of thousands of gays, Castro stated, “We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death. In those moments I was not able to deal with that matter [of homosexuals].” Blaming Cuba’s pre-revolutionary attitudes toward homosexuality as the crux of the negative treatment of gays, Castro went a step further, shocking many, when he stated that homosexuality is a “natural aspect and tendency of human beings.”

Because of the tremendous work and activism being conducted by CENESEX and its director, Dr. Mariela Castro-Espín (niece of Fidel Castro and daughter of former president Raùl Castro), Cuba is on the precipice of legalizing Gay marriage. This is a huge step forward in rights equality for the island's LGBTQ community. A referendum in on the books and is slated to go before Cuba's parliamentary government in early 2019. Cuba's new President Miguel Díaz-Canel, has not only attended past events of the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, but he apparently is also in favor to move favorably in support of marriage equality. Whatever the outcome may or may not be, the current movement is an unprescented march forward in a country known in the past for its machoism leanings.

Without a doubt Cuba's LGBTQ community is thriving. They are a community impacting and making change for a community long deprived of equal rights. Viva Cuba! Viva CENESEX!

All Images ©ByronMotleyPhotogrpahy - All Rights Reserved.

Trans CENESEX employee, Angeli

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© 2018 Byron Motley & Byron Motley Photography

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Welcome to my GAY CUBblog where you can learn about the latest news from inside sources within Cuba's LGBTQ community.


I am a long-time traveler to Cuba and the author of the award-winning photo book Embracing Cuba.  The book is one of my proudest creative achievements! 

I am proud to be considered a part of the CENESEX CUBA family and have been working with, photographically documenting, and supporting the organization for the past decade.  For those who may not know, CENESEX is Cuba's version of an LGBTQ Center.  The organization also focuses on women's rights and issues.  The folks at CENESEX have become people I love and admire deeply. Not only do I consider them"amigos", they are now "familia"!


I never thought of myself as an "activist" until becoming involved with CENESEX CUBA.  Now, I proudly carry that banner.  Enjoy getting to know them and me through this blog!

Abrazos y besitos,

Byron Motley


p.s.....Visit my photography website at to see more images from Cuba.....and beyond!

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