The daughter of Cuba President Raul Castro cannot visit Philadelphia to receive an award for her gay rights activism because the State Department has denied her permission to travel there, officials said Thursday. Mariela Castro had been expected to attend a conference next week on civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities sponsored by the Equality Forum, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group's executive director. "We find it shocking that our State Department would deny freedom of speech, particularly at an international civil rights summit, to anyone, let alone the Cuban president's daughter," Lazin said. State Department spokesman Noel Clay said he could not comment on the case because visa records are confidential.
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