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USA Today: When it comes to gay rights, is Cuba inching ahead of USA?

HAVANA — Years before George W. Bush proclaimed his support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages in the United States, the ideologically rigid government of Fidel Castro made a big move in the opposite direction.

It sanctioned the production and viewing of Strawberry and Chocolate, an Academy Award-nominated film about the awkward friendship between a straight man and a gay man — and the homophobia they both had to battle.

Since this movie debuted in theaters here in the mid-1990s, the Cuban government's intolerance of homosexuals has given way to a more egalitarian treatment of gays and lesbians.

The public persecution of homosexuals has declined sharply. Two years ago, Cuba had its first gay film festival. Last year, the highest-rated show on Cuba's state-run television was a soap opera in which a married man fell in love with another man. And now this country is on the verge of enacting a law that gives same-sex couples some form of legal status.

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