Director of Cuba's National Center for Sexual Education, Mariela Castro, who is the daughter of President Raúl Castro, speaks during a march in Havana against homophobia on May 14.
Credit: Adalberto Roque

After initially denying her request, the US State Department on Tuesday granted a travel visa to Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, thereby allowing her to accept a gay rights advocacy award at an upcoming event in Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press

An earlier US visit by Castro was controversial, with Mitt Romney attacking the Obama administration for granting her travel access given Cuba's "systematic and flagrant denial of basic human rights," Romney said in a statement cited by Agence France Presse.

Hence the fickleness on the part of the State Department. But a US official told CNN Castro's application was "looked at again" and "the restriction on her visa has been lifted, which will allow her to travel."

Mariela Castro runs Cuba's national center for sex education and has campaigned aggressively for gay rights in the communist island nation, calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage and more information about AIDS, said CNN

More from GlobalPost: Cuba: Mariela Castro, 'sexologist' and niece of Fidel, to visit San Francisco

Castro had been invited to attend an international conference on gay rights organized by the Philadelphia-based activist group Equality Forum. Organizers wanted to recognize Castro as an "International Ally for LGBT Equality" and invited her to attend and speak.

Equality Forum executive director Malcolm Lazin was reportedly infuriated by the State Department's reluctance on the visa issue. She told AP she was "delighted" by the turnaround, describing Castro as "unquestionably the leader for progressive change for the LGBT community in Cuba."

"Her accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable," Lazin told AP

This will not be Castro's first visit to the United States. She spoke about gender diversity at a conference in San Francisco in May. 

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