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Cuba's LGBTI Leaders Building Toward More Inclusive Society

Malu Cano Valladares dropped out of school and fled to Havana when her family began discriminating against her for being a transgender person.

"Life has not always smiled at me," she says as she reflects on the prejudice and stigma that she has faced along with others in Cuba's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.

Her experience motivated her to join the National Center for Sexual Education. Valladares, among a growing group of activists and educators, have helped raise awareness to build a more inclusive society. Their progress reached a milestone in 2014, when the Cuban government banned workplace discrimination against LGBT people.

Healthcare access has improved significantly for these vulnerable communities as well. Today, all Cubans living with HIV have access to antiretroviral therapy.

Eventually, Valladares' family joined her workshops to support her fight for LGBTI rights. "My family acceps and loves me," she says.

As part of its work, the United Nations Development Program works with the government and local groups to reduce inequalities and exclusion, while enhancing access to HIV and health services for LGBTI people. To learn more about the UNDP's global work, please visit their HIV and health page.

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