Progress for LGBT Rights in Haiti, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender

The terms lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) describe distinct groups within the gay culture. In the face of love, this group believes, everyone is equal and should be treated equally. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is against international human rights law and standards. Their demands can be divided into six main categories -- preventing violence against the LGBT community, full recognition of gay families, including equality in surrogacy, providing appropriate social welfare to LGBT people, equality in health care, and educating the general population for tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community. Some countries (about 25 nations, all of which are developed democracies or developing democracies), recognize same-sex marriage. By contrast, 10 countries or jurisdictions, all of which are Islamic and ruled by Islamic law (Sharia), impose the death penalty for homosexuality.

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Laws affecting (LGBT) people vary greatly by country or territory, even in the Caribbean -- everything from the legal recognition of same-sex marriage to the death penalty for homosexuality. In Haiti, claim for such rights is gradually becoming more acceptable. Constitutionally, LGBT Haitians are technically protected against discrimination in the workplace (Article 35-2). Members of the LGBT community openly hold positions as government officials, NGO workers, etc.

However, Haitians are still divided in opinions. Discussing the situation of gay men and men who have sex with men is still seen as taboo in Haiti. Presently, two proposed anti-LGBT laws are pending in Parliament. Some Haitians are still firm in their condemnation of homosexuality. Gays are frequent targets of attacks and harassment-- police are found to be often unsympathetic to the gay victims. The ratified Constitution of Haiti (1987) does not expressly prohibit discrimination on the account of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, Haiti does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or similar institutions. In 2013, Christian and Muslim religious leaders organized a large public demonstration against gay marriage. On August 2017, a bill was passed in the Haitian Senate to jail same-sex couples who get married for three years, with a fine of $8,000.

Kouraj (Haitian Creole for courage) is one of the most prominent LGBT rights organizations in Haiti. The group's headquarters have moved three times after attacks. Charlot Jeudy, the founder of Kouraj in 2011, organized a four-day LGBT film festival called Massimadi (Creole terms for gay and lesbian), but was forced to abandon it for death threats. Most Haitians have strong ties to a religion or denomination that views homosexuality and cross-dressing negatively.

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