A Haitian LGBTI group denounced a senate vote Tuesday that passed a bill introducing rigid sanctions against gay marriage and penalizing any public or private parties supporting the union with three years in prison and a fine of US$8,000.
Charlot Jeudy, president of Kouraj — a group that defends the rights of LGBTI people — said, “We see this as an attack on the LGBT community in this country," adding, “This text divides our society, it reinforces prejudices and discrimination. It’s really a shame.”
The two gay rights organizations still officially recognized by the state record daily instances of threats, insults and violence. Politicians “know very well that this will bring much more violence and prejudice against the LGBTI community,” Jeudy said.
Senate President Youri Latortue justified the vote by saying that the country was founded on strict religious principles and that the senate merely reflected the thoughts of the people, according to AFP.
"Although the state is secular, it is people of faith who are the majority,” Latortue said.
Kouraj's petition campaign to overturn the bill.
Jeudy countered, however, saying, "The entire LGBTI community in Haiti is concerned about the latest attacks on us. The proposed law prohibiting same-sex marriage in Haiti is wasted time since the law does not recognize same-sex marriage, now what they want to do is penalize it."
The anti-LGBTI bill passed through the senate with 14 in favor and only one against. It will now move to the Chamber of Deputies for debate.
The bill calls for banning “any public demonstration of support for homosexuality and proselytizing in favor of such acts.” It is this ambiguous wording that raises concern among Haitian LGBTIs and their advocates.
A report from Diario Registrado states the senate has already decided to deny LGBTI community members "certificate of a good life," which is a document required in order practice management in Haiti.
The legislation was pushed by conservative Senator Carl Murat Cantave who has publicly criticized the LGBTI community on numerous occasions, blaming them for natural disasters on the island.