Haiti’s Senate Bill Discriminates Against LGBTQ Community

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Photo Credit: Katie Orlinsky for Al Jazeera America

In June, a bill was adopted by the Haitian Senate which not only violates the Haitian Constitution, it also further marginalizes and discriminates against the LGBTQ community. Consensual homosexual relationships in Haiti have been legal since 1986, yet due to religious culture, the subject remains taboo. Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), urged the Haitian government to protect the rights and dignity of Haitian LGBTQ individuals. “The Haitian government must respect its obligation to protect disadvantaged populations instead of persecuting them,” said Joseph.

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Haiti Senate Bill Discriminates Against LGBTQ Community, Human Rights Org Says

The Haitian Times

A recent bill adopted by the Haitian Senate last month discriminates against the LGBTQ community and violates the Haitian constitution, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) said in a recent release. The Bill on the Reputation and Assessment of Good and Moral Conduct, which was adopted on June 29, criminalizes homosexuality and classifies it along with other crimes such as child pornography, prostitution, and child abuse.

“The Haitian government must respect its obligation to protect disadvantaged populations instead of persecuting them,” said Mario Joseph, an attorney at BAI. “Contrary to the interpretation of Senator Jean-Renel Sénatus, the Haitian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantee equal protection for LGBT people. We must accept that LGBT people need and have the right to the same protection as other marginalized Haitians such as women, children, the poor, and handicapped persons.”

Although consensual homosexual relationships have been legal since 1986, the subject remains largely taboo in the deeply religious-based culture. For example, a festival celebrating Haiti’s LGBTQ community was slated for last year, but was later cancelled after threats of violence and government opposition.

According to Charlot Jeudy, President of the organization KOURAJ (Courage in English), “Homosexuality and transsexuality remain taboo subjects in Haitian society, and as a result, the lives of many LGBT people are characterized by secrecy, isolation, discrimination, fear of retaliation, and violence.” Community organizations like KOURAJ, which work with the LGBT community, are often the victims of threats and attacks because of their work.

Article 2 of the declaration states that, “anyone can invoke all the rights and liberties proclaimed in the current Declaration, without discriminating against race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinions or other viewpoints.” Article 16 expands the right to marry by reducing discrimination, and increasing the equality of the sexes in accordance with this law. The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) clarified in 2006 that this non-discrimination principle applies to LGBT people as well.

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