Gay marriage ban approved in Haiti

family law

The Senate of Haiti has approved a measure which outlaws gay marriage in the Caribbean nation.

While many countries around the world are making marriage accessible to LGBT people, this legislation states that “the perpetrators, co-perpetrators and accomplices” of any gay marriages will be subject to such punishments as three years in prison or a fine of up to 500,000 gourdes (£6,018). It also prohibits “all public manifestations of support for homosexuality and proselytizing in favor of such acts”.

It passed earlier this week. The day after the vote, Senate President Youri Latortue said the move to ban the practice “did not reflect the commitments made by the senators at the time of their campaigns” but “all the senators are against homosexual marriage”.

Before the new law can be enacted, however, the bill must also be approved by the Chambre des Députés (Chamber of Deputies), the second house of the Haitian legislature.

Unsurprisingly, LGBT groups are deeply concerned that the measure will soon become the law of the land. Charlot Jeudy, President of activist group Kouraj, called the bill “an attack against the LGBT community in this country”. The content of the proposed legislation “divides our society, it reinforces … prejudice and discrimination” he continued.

Even the language reveals more deeply-rooted issues, Jeudy explained, as it explicitly says that only the Police and the Courts can intervene when someone breaks the rules. This demonstrates the level of physical danger gay, lesbian and transgender people face in Haiti. By including this language in the legislation, even the lawmakers who proposed it are admitting that such people are targets of violence and want to prevent such acts escalating by people who claim they are just upholding the law. Yet despite the insistence that this is a Police matter, the bill will “bring a lot more violence and prejudice against the LGBTI community” Jeudy warned.

Photo by MichelleWalz via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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