Mariela Castro to get gay rights award in Philly

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro will travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy.

Officials at the Equality Forum say Mariela Castro will attend the group’s annual conference on gay rights this weekend. The organization’s executive director, Malcolm Lazin, said Tuesday that the U.S. State Department reversed its initial decision denying a visa for Mariela Castro’s visit.

Castro is the niece of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She is the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education and the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.

She was allowed to attend an academic conference in San Francisco last year. Cuban-American lawmakers blasted the decision, calling Castro a shill for her family’s Communist regime.

A State Department official confirmed she has permission to visit Philadelphia.

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Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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