Ignacio Estrada Cepero and Wendy Iriepa, who in 2011 became Cuba's first transgender married couple, on Monday here asked for U.S. support for projects that help their country's "marginalized" LGBT community.

"Our message is very clear: We came to tell our own reality, to be listened to and to have recognized that there are simultaneous projects for the defense of homosexuals' rights in Cuba," said Cepero in an interview with Efe in Washington.

"The homosexual community in Cuba is a community that is marginalized, that suffers from the stigma and persecution, that lacks public spaces ... Homophobia exists at the institutional level," the activist emphasized.

He also criticized the "political agenda" of Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro and director of the National Center for Sexual Education, for failing to reflect the interests of Cuba's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Cepero, director of the Cuban League against AIDS, complained that homosexuals suffering from AIDS are seen by Cuban authorities "as dirty cases" and they are normally the last to be attended to amid a scarcity of retrovirals on the island.

Cepero and Iriepa made history in Cuba in August 2011 by becoming the first couple comprised of a homosexual man and a woman whose sex-change operation was financed by the state.

Gay marriage is not legal in Cuba but Cepero and Iriepa's wedding is not considered to be a gay marriage because Wendy, who was born with the name Alexis, is now legally a woman.

Iriepa underwent the sex-change operation in 2007 as part of a pilot program that later included this type of surgery within Cuba's system of medical coverage.

The couple is visiting Washington this week as part of a three-month tour of the United States after being granted exit visas and receiving, via requests on the social networks, private contributions to finance the trip. EFE