More than a thousand people took to the streets in Port-au-Prince, Haiti last week to protest homosexuality and a proposed same-sex marriage bill.
A Haitian gay rights group has reportedly announced a plan to introduce marriage equality legislation, but religious groups including Protestants and Muslims led Friday’s demonstration protesting the idea. Some held signs and sang songs in which they threatened to burn down the country’s Parliament if marriage equality were legalized.
Though there’s not a lot of information available about the proposed legislation, it’s clear that religious groups played a key role in organizing the protest:
“I believe in God, and God condemns homosexuality,” said protester Eddy Jean-Pierre, a self-described Protestant. “Haiti is not going to accept this, and God will punish us further if we allow this law to pass.”
The demonstration organized by several religious groups, including one calling itself the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations, came two days after watchdog groups held a news conference to condemn what they say is an increase in threats against homosexuals in the country. They also took issue with plans for the Friday protest.
Gay rights groups in Haiti say that members of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community often don’t report rights violations to authorities out of fear of reprisal. Those people also have suffered overt discrimination from law enforcement and judicial authorities, particularly in Port-au-Prince, the U.S. State Department said in a 2012 report on human rights in Haiti.
Even worse, another source reported that two men presumed to be gay were murdered at Friday’s demonstration. Apparently some individuals were “armed with knives” and other objects and attacked people they believed were gay — including the two men who were beaten to death.
It’s difficult to determine the credibility of each source here, but it’s pretty obvious that the religious influence in Haiti is extremely dangerous for the country’s LGBT population. It saddens me to suggest that keeping quiet about being LGBT is ever a solution, but at times like these, it seems like there’s no other option.