PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- Activists of Kouraj, a group working for the rights of the Haitian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, have been receiving threats related to their work. The threats seem to be related to a march against “homosexuality in Haiti”, scheduled for 26 July.
The Haitian coalition of religious and moral organizations (Coalition haïtienne des organisations religieuses et morales) publicly called a march to protest against homosexuality and the threat of the expansion of the rights of the LGBTI people in the country.
Since the call for a march was announced on 26 June, Kouraj, a Haitian organization working to raise awareness about LGBTI rights and create public debate about the stigma surrounding homosexuality in Haiti, started to receive threats. They have received leaflets at their premises in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, warning the organization to stop their activities with messages like “we don’t need groups like Kouraj in Haiti” (“pas besoin de groupes comme Kouraj en Haïti”).
Charlot Jeudy, president of Kouraj, has been targeted in some of the threats. One of the leaflets left at Kouraj’s premises stated “If Charlot doesn’t shut his mouth, we’ll shut it for him” (“si Charlot ne ferme pas sa gueule, on va lui fermer” [sic]). He also received anonymous calls accusing homosexuals of being the source of the country’s problems, including the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti and killed 200,000 people. He has also received threats on his Facebook page.
Fearing for their safety, Kouraj’s activists have decided to close their office. They feel particularly unsafe as the date for the planned march, 26 July is approaching.
Amnesty International has called for people to write immediately in French, Haitian Creole or their own language:
• Calling for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the threat made against Charlot Jeudy and other activists of Kouraj, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice;
• Urging the authorities to take immediate steps to fully provide appropriate protection to Charlot Jeudy and other activists of Kouraj in accordance with their wishes;
• Reminding them that human rights defenders have a right to carry out their activities without any unfair restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Appeals should be sent before 30 August 2013 to:
General Director of the Haitian Police
Directeur Général de la PNH Police Nationale d’Haiti
Salutation: Monsieur le directeur/ Dear Director
Jean Renel Sanon
Minister of Justice and Public security
Ministre de la Justice et de la Sécurité publique
18 avenue Charles Summer
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/ Dear Minister
With solidarity copies to Kouraj:
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Kouraj (Haitian creole for “courage”) was formed in 2009 as “Amis-Amis” (Friends-Friends) and became Kouraj in December 2011.
Kouraj activists told Amnesty International how the situation of LGBTI people has worsened since the 12 January 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.
Following the 2010 earthquake, 2.3 millions of Haitians were left homeless with no alternative but to make their own shelters wherever they could. According to Kouraj LGBTI persons or those perceived as being LGBTI were often victims of discrimination in the displacement camps and many had to flee for even more precarious living conditions.