Haiti Aims to Ban Gay Marriage and Stifle LGBTQ Rights

Haiti’s Senate has passed a bill designed to not just ban same-gender marriage, but also to prohibit the so-called promotion of homosexuality. Why is Haiti so preoccupied with same-gender marriage, and is there any way to stop this attack on LGBTQ rights?

Haiti already bans same-gender marriage by only recognizing marriages between a man and a woman, and there are no equivalent — or even diminished — partnership rights offered to same-gender couples. But apparently, this stonewalling isn’t enough for Haiti’s lawmakers.

Legislation passed by the Senate at the beginning of August would make it a criminal offense to attempt to marry someone of the same gender, proscribing up to three years in prison and an $8,000 fine for each party involved. But that’s not all.

The legislation also makes it a criminal offense to have participated in any such wedding, meaning that supporters of the couple involved could be breaking the law. Obviously, the reach of this clause — would businesses providing services and a venue also be liable? — will depend on how rigorously the bill is enforced. Regardless, the legislation certainly would appear to alienate same-gender couples from the rest of the community.

Furthermore, the bill reportedly contains a somewhat loosely-worded ban that is designed to prevent people married outside of Haiti from attempting to force legal recognition within Haiti: “No foreigner can avail himself of his personal status and the provisions of the law of his country to solicit the celebration in Haiti of a marriage between two persons of the same sex.”

The legislation also aims to prohibit “any promotion, in any form or by any means” of anything that “constitutes an offense of contempt of good morals and public decency.” Essentially, this bill carries a gay advocacy ban which, while not identical, would have the same chilling effect as Russia’s anti-gay propaganda ban.

Charlot Jeudy of the LGBT rights organization Kouraj emphasized that the bill fundamentally violates Haiti’s constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and expression. Many human rights advocates hope that by threatening legal action, the lower Chamber of Deputies might abandon the bill.

“We have the right to protest and we have the right to be who we are and we have the right to be free,” Jeudy told NBC.

Haiti’s fight against HIV 

It is no secret that, over the past few decades, various problems have plagued Haiti. A lack of international response, particularly in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake and 2016′s Hurricane Matthew, have left the country struggling to rebuild and maintain its infrastructure. This, in turn, has led to outbreaks of several communicable diseases and put a strain on health services.

Despite these circumstances, Haiti has had success in reducing HIV numbers within its territory. The country continues to have the highest prevalence of HIV in the Caribbean, but it has managed to significantly scale back heterosexual transmission and mother-to-infant transmission, the two leading transmission routes.

Nevertheless, more progress would have been possible if Haiti’s increasingly religious lawmakers put more influence on STI prevention through education and outreach to communities like men who have sex with men and sex workers.

Therefore, to add to the nation’s existing anti-LGBT legislation specific bans that would dramatically curtail the powers of LGBT charities seems nonsensical. Previous data shows that anti-gay bans dramatically impact HIV numbers among MSM communities.

Haiti’s lawmakers are apparently considering this legislation because of their strong religious beliefs against same-gender marriage. But because the country already has a ban on same-gender marriage, there is nothing to be gained by pursuing this bill. And indulging in this morality policing could seriously harm the health of Haiti’s entire population.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

42 comments

Stephanie s
Stephanie s7 days ago

No more aid for them. Thank you

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I9 days ago

Thanks for the very interesting article!

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Gino C
Gino C11 days ago

thanks for the update

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Joan E
Joan E13 days ago

Haiti, I heard this morning that another hurricane is headed your way. You've been through so much. You need the world to be on your side. This is an evil and stupid move that is pushing your country in the wrong direction.

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Beth M
Beth M17 days ago

So the USA should never send them any financial aid. It is about human rights.

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE24 days ago

Live and let live

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Ian C
Ian Crory24 days ago

ruh

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Jeramie D
Jeramie D29 days ago

So sad.

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Bill Eagle
Bill Eagleabout a month ago

Poverty, ignorance, superstition all are part of Haiti's interpretation of the law. Such a shame. Hati could become the Jewell of the Caribbean were it not for it's exploitation by US companies.

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Liliana G
Liliana Gabout a month ago

White supremacists will never forgive Haiti! That said the "corrupt government doesn,t necessarily represent the people. I'm very close to people doing work ver there along with the Catholic Church progressive groups such as CARITAS and all of them say the people ARE NOT holding out their hands unless a desperate event has taken place, Some people here need to learn history!

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