Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro says she will push for same-sex marriage to be included in a constitutional reform process expected to begin in July.

Castro, who made the announcement at a press conference kicking off a week of events leading up to Havana’s annual march against homophobia and transphobia, also spoke of the need for tougher sanctions for anti-LGBTQ violence, according to Latin American news outlet Telesur.

Samira Hernandez, an openly gay woman whose family fled Cuba nearly four decades ago, applauded Mariela Castro for advocating for same-sex marriage.

“Had I grown up in Cuba as a gay women, I know my life would have been a lot harder due to Cuba’s long history of violence against my community,” Hernandez, who now lives in Houston, told NBC News. “Cubans are ready for change … every Cuban has the right to marry whomever they love, irrespective of gender.”

Mariela Castro has been a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights in Cuba and serves as director of the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), a Havana-based LGBTQ advocacy and educational organization. She leads the annual march against homophobia and transphobia in Havana, and her status as a staunch supporter for LGBTQ rights was even the subject of the 2016 HBO documentary “Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution.”

Cuba named a new president last month, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and many on the island — including Mariela Castro — are hopeful he will be more supportive of LGBTQ rights than previous leaders.

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Raul Castro's daughter Mariela Castro says she will push for same-sex marriage to be included in a constitutional reform process expected to begin in July. Castro, who made the announcement at a press conference kicking off a week of events leading up to Havana’s annual march against homophobia and transphobia,...