LGBT rights in Haiti

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LGBT rights in Haiti
Haiti
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1986
Gender identity/expression -
Military service No standing military
Discrimination protections None (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption -

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Haiti may face social and legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Adult and consensual same-sex sexuality is not a criminal offense, but LGBT people are not protected from discrimination and households headed by same-sex couples do not have any of the legal rights given to married couples.

Human Rights Issues[edit]

Criminal code[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private has been legal since 1986. The age of consent is eighteen.[1] While technically legal, other criminal laws have sometimes been used to jail, fine or otherwise harass LGBT people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Article 227 of the criminal code prohibits vagrancy, with a specific mention in the code for transvestites.[2]

Article 278 of the criminal code prohibits "outrages" against public morals, including against encouraging persons under the age of twenty-one from engaging in acts of "debauchery". [3]

Constitutional protections[edit]

The Constitution of Haiti, ratified in 1987, does not expressly prohibit discrimination on the account of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the Constitution does make certain guarantees to all citizens, including a right to health care, housing, education, food and social security [4].

Civil Rights protections[edit]

As 2013, the law does not prohibit discrimination on account of sexual orientation or gender identity in areas such as employment, education, health care, housing, finance, public accommodations and transportation. Haitian law does not have a hate crimes or bias motivated crime law to address harassment and violence directed at LGBT people.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Haiti does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or similar institutions.[2] In 2013, Christian and Muslim religious leaders organized a large public demonstration against gay marriage, when a Haitian LGBT rights group announced plans to lobby for a gay rights bill in the parliament.

Social Attitudes & Viewpoints[edit]

Most Haitians have strong ties to a religion or denomination that views homosexuality and cross-dressing negatively. Roughly eighty percent of the population is Catholic, and the second and third main religious groups in Haiti, Protestantism and Islam, also tend to have negative views about same-sex sexuality and cross-dressing.[2] LGBT people are thus often seen as immoral and support for LGBT-rights is seen as being opposed to God.

As a result of these attitudes and viewpoints, LGBT people often feel the need to be discreet about their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of being targeted for discrimination or harassment. While the Haiti government has allowed a LGBT rights movement to exist, public support is almost nonexistent.

The major social exception is Voodoo which, as a spiritual practice and belief, possesses little discrimination against LGBT people.

More than 1,000 people participated in Port-au-Prince in July 2013 to protest homosexuality and a proposal to legalize gay marriage.[3] The protest brought together a mix of religious groups from Protestant to Muslim, who carried anti-gay placards and chanted songs, including one in which they threatened to burn down parliament if its members make same-sex marriage legal. The coalition of religious groups said that it opposed laws in other countries supporting gay marriage.[3]

LGBT culture[edit]

LGBT film festivals and parades do not occur in Haiti, and there are no bars or nightclubs to cater to LGBT patrons. For the most part, the social life of LGBT people in Haiti is still largely low-key and, much like the rest of the country, divided by economic class.

In 2002 a documentary about gay Haitians was released titled "Of Men and Gods". The film examines the lives of several openly gay Haitian men and the discrimination that they face.[4]

Treatment by police[edit]

LGBT Haitians who are victims of a crime, often do not receive professional treatment from the police, who often share the negative religious attitudes and viewpoints concerning same-sex sexuality and cross-dressing.

Members of the police have been known to engage in harassment themselves and, through their unprofessional behavior, re-victimizatize LGBT people.[5]

Justification for the abuse and harassment of LGBT seems to stem from traditional attitudes about gender as well as the religious mores. LGBT people are often seen by police as not only being immoral, but violating "normal" rules about how men and women ought to dress and behave.[5]

AIDS/HIV[edit]

Main article: HIV/AIDS in Haiti

As of 2005, as many as sixty percent of Haitians lived in poverty, with roughly two percent of the population infected with HIV.[6][6] Today, the number of persons infected has risen to 4–6%, with rates increasing to 13% in certain rural neighborhoods.[7]

In 1997, Grasadis was created as an organization that specializes in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS among the LGBT minority as well as working to educate the general public about this minority. Former first lady Mildred Aristide openly expressed support for Grasadis' work.

Government Policy[edit]

Duvaliers[edit]

No evidence exists as to whether or not LGBT people were specifically targeted during the Duvalier dictatorships. The noted artist Richard Brisson was executed by the dictatorship, although it remains unclear whether or not his sexual orientation was a factor in his execution.

Post 1980s[edit]

More recently, Prime Minister nominee Michele Pierre-Louis was rumored to be a lesbian, thus promoting public condemnation by legislators that she was immoral and thus unfit to hold public office. She was allowed to hold the post, but only after reading a public statement declaring the rumors to be false and an insult to her good character.[2]

In 2007, the New York City-based Haitian Lesbian and Gay Alliance was created to provide social services to the Haitian LGBT minority as well as to campaign for their human rights [5].

In 2008, about a dozen Haitians took part in the nation's first gay rights demonstration.[8]

2010 earthquake[edit]

Fourteen Haitians were killed by the 2010 earthquake while attending a support group for gay and bisexual men.[9]

In the weeks following the earthquake, many gay men in Haiti heard sermons on the radio and in churches, as well as talk in the streets that blamed the masisi (gay, derogative) and other “sinners” for incurring the wrath of God and causing the earthquake.[10] One gay man reported to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and that an MSM friend was beaten by an angry crowd whose members verbally abused him and accused him of being responsible for the earthquake.[10]

When Paul Emil Ernst, the Director of the AIDS service organization Action Civique Contre le VIH (ACCV) in Port-au-Prince struggled to climb out from under the rubble of his collapsed office, he heard cheers coming from neighbors gathering outside: “Meci Jesus, prezidan an pedo ki mouri.” (“Thank you Jesus, the president of the pedophiles is dead.”) and “Mo an masisi!” (“Death to the masisi!”).[10]

There were also verbal and physical attacks against Vodou practitioners following the earthquake, perpetrated by those who felt that, like homosexuals, Vodouists were immoral and bore some responsibility for the country’s catastrophe.[10] It is common knowledge in Haiti that a significant number of Vodou are masisi, and many LGBT believe that it was easier to be open about one’s sexuality and gender expression within Vodou culture.[10]

After the earthquake hit, gay and bisexual men reported that they had taken on a more masculine demeanor since the earthquake, altering their voice, posture, and gait - “mettre des roches sur nos epaules” (“putting rocks on our shoulders”) - in order to avoid harassment both inside and outside of the camps and to reduce the chances of being denied access to emergency housing, healthcare, and/or enrollment in food-for-work programs.[11]

In the post-earthquake context, many LGBT people expressed a lack of confidence in the capacity and the willingness of the police to assure protection and adherence to the rule of law when it came to protecting LGBT people.[5] As a case study, a man interviewed said he was threatened and physically attacked for supposedly flirting with a man sitting across from him on a taptap (local bus). When he found a nearby policeman, rather than explaining that he was being harassed as a result of his sexuality, he told the policeman that he had been a victim of theft because, he said, “I knew that [the police] would only help me if I told them that I had been robbed. If the police knew I was gay, they would have attacked me instead of the man who beat me.[5]

Another gay man interviewed by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that “My brother and I were having an argument. I went to the police looking for help. When my brother told them that I was masisi (gay), they slapped me and laughed. They beat me even worse than he did.”[5]

A group of lesbian women interviewed by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that sexual violence and corrective rape were “definitely a problem” in the refugee camps after the earthquake.[12] The rape of lesbians, gay men and transgender women in or near camps was documented.[12] For example, a 24-year-old lesbian was brutally raped by eight men at the Champs de Mars camp.[12]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes Since 1986
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Has no military
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]

General:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "LEGAL AGE OF CONSENT (ageofconsent.com) Age du consentement ŕ l’acte sexuel". ageofconsent.com. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Katz, Jonathan M. (30 November 2008). "Openly gay marchers debut at Haiti AIDS rally". USA Today. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Haiti Anti-Gay Protest Draws More Than 1,000 Demonstrators", The Huffington Post, 07/19/13.
  4. ^ Duran, Jose D. (26 May 2008). "Haiti & Homosexuality – Miami News – Riptide 2.0". Blogs.miaminewtimes.com. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "The Impact of the Earthquake, and Relief and Recovery Programs on Haitian LGBT People", Briefing paper produced by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and SEROvie, 2011, p.5.
  6. ^ a b "FRONTLINE: the age of aids: country profile: haiti". PBS. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Gays in Haiti show their Pride during AIDS march". Pink News. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Look Who's Talking! (3 Dec). "14 members of Haitian gay support group die in earthquake". Fridae. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "The Impact of the Earthquake, and Relief and Recovery Programs on Haitian LGBT People", Briefing paper produced by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and SEROvie, 2011, p.6.
  11. ^ "The Impact of the Earthquake, and Relief and Recovery Programs on Haitian LGBT People", Briefing paper produced by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and SEROvie, 2011, p. 4.
  12. ^ a b c "The Impact of the Earthquake, and Relief and Recovery Programs on Haitian LGBT People", Briefing paper produced by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and SEROvie, 2011, p.4.

Further reading[edit]

  • Haitian Bisexuality: It's My Life by Teejay LeCapois

External links[edit]