Saturday, May 26, 2012

IDAHO: Haiti's First LGBT Congress
& Kouraj Activists Form an Alliance

Reports and photos surfaced last week of gays and people with AIDS in Haiti participating in International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia with a national congress that brought together hundreds of ordinary citizens and non-governmental organizations.

Here's something I didn't know. There's now a pushy queer group in Haiti named Kouraj, and the world sure could use a lot such groups, demanding respect and the right to love and using a pink triangle, surrounded by three black triangles please my eye. The queer spelling of courage add fierceness to the iconic logo.

The Kouraj site contains a few pages in English, including reprinting a May 4 story in Xtra! about the group:
Masisi means faggot in Haitian Creole. But the founders of the Caribbean island’s first openly political gay rights organization, KOURAJ, are reclaiming it and using it with abandon in naming and speaking about themselves and their community. It is the central word in the mission they have set out for themselves: The Masisi Manifesto. Its first couple of lines read: “We were born masisi. We will always be masisi.” 

Here's wishing everyone in Kouraj the best fortunes possible as they continue their important advocacy.

(Le Nouvelliste's caption: "Une transsexuelle discourant sur ses droits fondamentaux". Tranlsation: "A transsexual woman speaks on his fundamental rights". Credit: Claude Bernard Serant.)

An article by Claude Bernard Serant in the Le Nouvelliste paper reported on the congress that took place in Port-au-Prince, and was translated into English in The Defender news web site:
The LGBT community in Haiti gathered more than three hundred men and women of sexual orientation stigmatized by Haitian society to tell the country to cease discriminatory practices against them. A man, slightly disguised, who spreads his fingers in speaking at the Hotel Montana, Thursday, May 17 at the first National Congress of the Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Population of Haiti, said he was proud to belong to the LGBT community. In the hall resounded a voice: "Lese nou viv!"  [...]
The LGBT community openly in front of more than three hundred members of organizations from seven area departments of Haiti, people stigmatized for their sexual orientation by Haitian society, UN official Nigel Fisher stressed that the recognition of LGBT rights is a concept struggling to take root in the social and normative in different countries. [...]
Member of an organization that defends the interests of the LGBT community, Jean-Louis of Sérovie explains: "In 2003, two of my friends were returning from a party about eleven o'clock at Poste-Marchand. Sniffing they were gay, young men beat them savagely. One of them lost an eye. A patrol of the National Police on site did not even help." [...]
President Kouraj, Jeudy Charlot assumes and proclaims her gender. Having completed his studies in law, working on his thesis project. "My subject is the issue of homosexuality in Haiti. Reality. Legal approach. We fight against homophobia in Haiti. We have a structure to fight against all forms of stigma and discrimination. We have fifty active members."

(A banner heralding IDAHO was on display at the congress.)

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