Latin America & Caribbean

Haiti LGBT festival cancelled due to threats

A Massimadi festival poster hangs at the Kouraj organization office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday Sept. 27, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption A festival poster hangs in the offices of an LGBT organisation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital

Organisers have called off a festival celebrating Haiti's Afro-Caribbean lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community because of threats of violence and government opposition.

Jean Danton Leger, commissioner of Port-au-Prince, said he had blocked the event to protect public morals.

It came after the Haitian lawmaker, known for homophobic views, called for the Massimadi festival to be banned.

One of the event's organisers described discrimination homosexuals faced.

"Our festival was postponed precisely because there has been a verbal ban by the government commissioner of Port au Prince, Jean Danton Leger," said Jeudy Charlot.

"Homosexually is frowned upon, perceived as evil. At times, they may be ridiculed, they can be attacked."

Meanwhile, Lorraine Mangones, another of the festival's organisers, said her team had been "receiving threats of outrageous violence".

Senator Jean Renel Senatur previously condemned the attempt to start the Massimadi festival in Haiti.

"This festival aims to promote homosexuality in our country - to convey values that are contrary to our social mores," he said.

The Massimadi arts and film festival is held each year in Brussels and Montreal and is targeted at Afro-Caribbean communities.

Agence France Presse said that in July 2013 a protest against gay people, which was organised by evangelical church groups, drew several thousand protesters in the capital Port-au-Prince.

There are no laws prohibiting homosexuality in Haiti.

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