Haiti: LGBTI activists continue work despite threats and violence
On May 17, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (and the unofficial start of Pride season), send a message of hope to activists in Haiti, who tirelessly work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, despite threats and violence.
Kouraj (Haitian creole for “courage”) is an organization promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Haiti.
In summer 2013, following public protests against same-sex relationships, Kouraj activists received threats. Leaflets were left at their office in Port-au-Prince warning them to stop their activities. The president of Kouraj, Charlot Jeudy, was directly targeted in one of the leaflets left at Kouraj’s premises, which stated “If Charlot doesn’t shut his mouth, we’ll shut it for him.” Charlot also received anonymous calls accusing homosexuals of being the source of the country’s problems, including the 2010 earthquake which struck Haiti and killed 200,000 people. There were also reports of threats and violence against the wider LGBTI community during that time.
Three armed men forcibly entered Kouraj’s office on November 21, 2013 and beat and tied up two activists. They made homophobic insults and said that that office had to close. The attackers then ransacked the office and stole equipment including laptops and personal belongings. After the attack, Kouraj activists received several anonymous calls with homophobic insults and threats of further attacks.
Kouraj activists have told Amnesty International how the situation of LGBTI people has worsened since the 2010 earthquake, especially with the substantial arrival of religious groups from North America, many of whom have accused homosexuality in Haiti to be one of the reasons for the earthquake and the source of the country’s problems.
Send messages of hope and solidarity to Kouraj activists in Haiti who continue their work to promote equality and end discrimination despite threats and violence. Your messages lets Kouraj activists know they are not alone. If possible, write your messages in French or Creole.
- French: Nous avons droit aux mêmes droits dans la différence de nos sexualités
- Creole: Tout moun genyen mem dwa memsi nou diferan nan seksyalite nou
- English: Everyone has the same rights even if we differ in our sexuality
International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)
Around the world, individuals face numerous human rights violations because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face disproportionately high levels of discrimination when accessing healthcare, education, employment and housing. In many countries, consensual same-sex conduct remains criminalized and LGBTI people are often subjected to arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, imprisonment, and torture. LGBTI people are also denied the right to freedom of expression and assembly, and in some countries, activists organizing Pride marches face bans by city authorities or inadequate police protection for organizers and participants of Pride events.
The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to such issues. The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify ‘homosexuality’ as a mental disorder.
In 2014, the international organizing committee of IDAHOT decided to choose Freedom of Expression as the main theme.