(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
There is no law against homosexuality in the Haitian Penal Code. Minimally, LGBTI Haitians are protected under its Constitution of 1987: Art. 35-2 prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on “sex, opinions and marital status.” However, with no clear laws regarding LGBTI, many LGBTI Haitians are left puzzled by what it means that homosexuality is legal in their country. Haiti does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or similar institutions. It is unclear if LGBTI people may adopt or have custody of their own children. They do not have an anti-hate crime law that specifically addresses discrimination and harassment that LGBTI Haitians face on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
No published cases have been found. Would be grateful if users of this website are able to refer us to any that they know of which involved LGBTI cases from Haiti.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
Homosexuality and cross dressing are seen as taboo and immoral by the largely Catholic Haitians.
On March 25, 2011, IACHR held a hearing entitled “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Haiti” accompanied by a briefing paper produced by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and SEROvie entitled “The Impact of the Earthquake, and Relief and Recovery Programs on Haitian LGBT People”. The information they set forth is as follows:
The largely Catholic or fundamental Protestant Haitians are quite hostile to LGBTI people. As a result, LGBTI people are often abused verbally, psychologically, and physically with no protection offered by the state in the form of anti-discrimination laws. And despite the laws that do exist to protect equal rights among citizens, there have nevertheless been reports of denial to housing, health care, education, or employment as well as violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The marginalization and stigmatization only worsened in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. The LGBTI population was blamed as the cause of the devastation and the violence towards them increased.
Their greater vulnerability was compounded by the fact that the organizations that provided services to LGBTI Haitians, such as SEROvie, were also destroyed in the earthquake. The policy of aid workers after the earthquake to only distribute emergency food rations to female heads-of-households meant that gay men and transgender people who lived in families without a female were unable to collect food. Lesbian women without male relatives or friends were also discouraged from collecting their ration by the dangerous and chaotic distribution lines. LGBTI people rely on the vigilance of family and friends to be aware of their comings and goings. The earthquake disrupted regular patterns of movement, which resulted in heightened vulnerability and greater violence towards them, particularly within IDP camps. There is also greater sexual violence in general, whether in the form of rape or sexual exploitation for food or money.
Gay and bisexual men reported that they had taken on a more masculine demeanor since the earthquake, altering their posture and gait to avoid harassment and discrimination. If they do become victims of sexual violence, they are often stigmatized by police for “allowing” themselves to be raped. It is this re-victimization that results in gross underreporting of hate crimes by LGBTI people and reduces the chances that they will seek treatment in the aftermath of the event.
On September 13, 2010, 40 women were arrested in the Champs de Mars IDP camp for being in flagrante delicto. Haitian television station Tele Éclair reported that they had been arrested for “practicing ‘woman on woman’ activities in tents.” While the actual motivations of arrest of these women remains unclear, the exposure of these women to the media and public as transgressors of gender norms and therefore worthy of punishment has created a frightening environment.
There is a clear class divide in regards to LGBTI in Haiti, where the upper classes can be more open and have exclusive dinner parties where homosexual activity takes place. It has been reported that some high-ranking officials take part in such events. The poorer classes, however, must live in greater secrecy or risk violence. They have only two ways to openly express and celebrate who they are- in Voodoo and Rara festivals. (Asylum Law Haiti)
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
We are not currently aware of any organisations working with LGBTI persons in Haiti, but welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We do not currently list any specialists on LGBTI issues in Haiti but we welcoe suggestions.
Researched by: Rhiannon Archer