Death Threats, Government Order Block Haiti Gay Festival

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday September 28, 2016 – Organizers have called off a festival celebrating Haiti’s Afro-Caribbean lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community because of threats of violence and government opposition.

Jean Danton Leger, commissioner of Port-au-Prince, said he had blocked the Massimadi festival to protect public morals.

The decision followed Haitian lawmaker Senator Jean Renel Senatus calling for the four-day film, art and performance event to be banned.

Senator Senatus had previously condemned the attempt to start the Massimadi festival in Haiti.

“This festival aims to promote homosexuality in our country – to convey values that are contrary to our social mores,” he said.

Jeudy Charlot of the gay rights group Kouraj, the main organizer of the event, said was adamant that the festival would be held “in the future”, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Lorraine Mangones, another of the festival’s organizers, said her team had been “receiving threats of outrageous violence”.

The Massimadi festival was first launched in 2009 in Montreal by a group called African Rainbow. It has also been held without any problems in Belgium. This was the first year it was scheduled to take place in Haiti.

“Unfortunately the situation is getting more and more dramatic,” said Anthony Manuel Plagnes Paya, festival spokesman in Montreal. “Kouraj members are threatened (with) death and are scared to go out.”

There are no laws prohibiting homosexuality in Haiti. (Adapted from BBC and AP reports)

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