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Haiti: Activists beaten and bound in attack on gay rights organization

Amnesty International says men who raided Kouraj bore machetes and guns

Kouraj president Charlot Jeudy. Credit: youtube.com
Head of the Haitian gay rights group Charlot Jeudy. kourajhaiti

Amnesty International says three men bearing handguns and machetes attacked the office of Haitian gay rights group Kouraj, aiming anti-gay slurs at two of its members who were beaten and tied up, The Washington Post reports.

According to the report, the attackers, who stole electronic equipment and information about the group's membership, reportedly said Kouraj shouldn't exist.

In an interview with Daily Xtra in May last year, Kouraj president Jeudy Charlot said the organization's creation is revolutionary in itself and a victory.

"To be homosexual in Haiti requires courage," he said via email, through a translator. "The biggest obstacle for homosexual people is that they are not accepted and they cannot accept themselves."

Kouraj, which means courage, represents an awakening of sorts, he said. "It represents a sign that some homosexuals have become engaged, have reacted, have acted," he says on the group's website. "We do not yet have numbers, but this will change. Kouraj is the spark, the possibility that there is an alternative to enduring suffering; it is the means that we masisi have chosen to finally change Haiti."
 
While Haiti does not criminalize homosexuality, there are no laws that specifically guarantee gay people protection from discrimination. Charlot said there is talk about anti-discrimination legislation, but it remains at the level of lip service — for now.
 
"Whatever you do is in secret," he said, noting it was a long struggle to have his own family accept him. "I do not want to leave this country because I do not want youth who are born homosexual or transgender to have a more difficult life than others solely due to something they did not choose," he states on the Kouraj website.