Haiti: religious groups hold anti-LGBT march

More than 1,000 Haitian religious people, ranging from Protestants to Muslims, marched in Port-au-Prince on July 19 to oppose homosexuality and any law that might be proposed in Parliament to allow same-sex marriage. The marchers chanted slogans calling for the “survival” of the traditional family; one slogan threatened that “Parliament will burn if this bill is passed.” At the site of the National Palace they paused to warn President Michel Martelly not to support homosexuality; when he was the popular singer “Sweet Micky,” the president sometimes cross-dressed to play a female character he called “Ti Simone.” The protesters also harassed Amélie Baron, the correspondent for the French network Radio France Internationale (RFI), apparently because France recently passed a law allowing same-sex marriage. Baron said she received an “anthology of insults”: “You’re sick, an abomination, the devil come here to corrupt Haiti.” (AlterPresse, Haiti, July 19, July 19Miami Herald, July 19, from AP)

On July 17 the LGBT rights group Courage and the Bureau of International Laywers (BAI) held a press conference warning that the July 19 march could be the beginning of a campaign of persecution of homosexuals. “Society needs to take all the steps to fight against stigmatization, to promote the equality of the sexes,” Courage’s Charlot Jeudy said. BAI president Mario Joseph, a prominent human rights lawyer, discussed a number of homophobic attacks, notably in the Jacmel area in Southeast department and Saint-Marc in Artibonite department, in which LGBT people have been stoned, beaten and injured. The LGBT rights movement is still small in Haiti; Courage says it has 178 members, 60 of them women. (AlterPresse, 7/18/13)

In other news, a group of construction workers at the Caracol Industrial Park (PIC) in Northeast department held a one-day strike on July 16 to protest treatment by their employer, the Dominican company Estrella. They said they were paid from 400 gourdes (about US$9.23) to 900 gourdes (about US$20.67) a day, at least twice as much as the apparel workers in the park. But the construction workers, who don’t have a union, complained that they didn’t receive their full wages and that they weren’t paid on time. The Dominican employees were treated and paid better, according to the Haitians. The strikers returned to work the next day, after management promised improvements. (AlterPresse, July 18) (Estrella reportedly is taking over the stalled repair of the 69-km highway from Jérémie in Grand’Anse department to Les Cayes in South department.)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 21.