Hundreds of people danced the conga through the streets of Havana to the beats of drums and trumpets in a government-sponsored march against homophobia.

The dance on Saturday was led by President Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela, who is the head of the National Sexual Education Center and a leading campaigner for gay rights in the country.

Homophobia no! Socialism yes!

Campaign slogan, National Center of Sexual Education

People danced La Rampa through the crowded city, chanting "Homophobia no! Socialism yes!" as they made their way through Havana for more than an hour.

Cuba has previously persecuted homosexuals, particularly during the 1960s when being gay was outlawed and homosexuals were interned in work camps.

Mariela Castro said she is optimistic that the communist nation will eventually legalise gay marriage. 

"What is most complicated is the time it takes to overcome prejudices," she said.

"We must change consciousness."

Castro's National Center of Sexual Education has campaigned to turn around Cuban attitudes about gays over the past seven years.

"I came to dance and to protest against homophobia," said Farah Mariah, who claims to be the first person in Cuba to undergo a sex change and now calls herself the "Diva of the Transvestites."

Source: Agencies