And the excuse – the fear of the marriage equality gains in the West
By Cathy Kristofferson, July 17, 2013
Just as marriage equality’ is being celebrated in England and Wales, religious leaders in Haiti become the latest to use the threat of similar marriage legislation coming to that island as an excuse to march against homosexuality. That, of course means, it is a march for hate and homophobia since inevitably one begets the other.
The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), a public interest law office, sent out a press release today denouncing the march planned for Friday.
In Haiti, same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults – 18 and older – in private has been legal since 1986. The strong presence of the Catholic Church combined with years of political unrest, though, does not make life easy for LGBT community members. There are minority rights in the country’s constitution but they do not explicitly call out LGBTI as a protected minority. There is no legislation, existing or proposed, to prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and no political party has ever even endorsed LGBT rights.
So, it is with that backdrop that the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations held a televised press conference back in late June. The religious leaders condemned “all laws giving support to gay marriages” and chanted, “Nou pa dakò! Nou pa dakò!” (we are “not okay” with gays).
“Basically speaking, God does not agree and nor do we because we rely on God, and because we saw the misfortunes it brought to Sodom and Gomorrah. So, because we do not want to experience the same misfortunes, we are compelled to take a position,” said the president of the religious coalition.
The question is – Who is trying to give these laws to the Haitian LGBT community? Since the answer is “no one”, once again religious leaders are using advances in LGBT rights in Western countries to further persecute the LGBT community at home.
The march by these religious groups will only further increase intolerance and violence pushing more people into hiding. It will increase discrimination. It will further impact health care opportunities and HIV/AIDS prevention for those who often need it most.
A group of LGBT organizations also issued a statement against the planned march. In part it reads:
“We, the organizations for the defense of human rights (SEROvie, KOURAJ, FACSDIS, DOP, UPDS), send their regards to the general population and take advantage of this occasion to inform everyone of the consequences that will occur following the anti-homosexual rally that will be held on July 19 2013 by so-called moral and religious organizations.
This anti-homosexual rally will have as consequences increasing the violence against homosexuals, to plunge the Haitian Family into mourning, to stir up hate against homosexuals. It will be like a crusade against homosexuals. No one can ignore what the crusades have provoked. What mistakes have we not committed in the name of religion, what infamous wars have we not provoked in the name of religious.”
The rest of their Press Note can be read here.
Discrimination against the LGBT community is in violation of the rights guaranteed by the 1987 Haitian Constitution. Consistent with the United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All Haitians are guaranteed equality before the law. Articles 18 & 19 of the Constitution obligates the Government to protect any Haitians whose rights may be violated by the actions of other groups.
So will the Haitian Government stand up to the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations to protect its own LGBT community?
It is time for so-called religious leaders worldwide to cease and desist from persecuting the LGBT community in every country starting now with Haiti.