PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti’s first-ever LGBT film festival has been postponed after threats to burn down a building it was to be held in and an order by Port-au-Prince police to ban it, organizers said.
The death and arson threats came by phone and in social media, members of leading Haitian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender group Kouraj said. Kouraj also said it would close its offices for a week for security reasons.
A senator added to the pressure to cancel the Massimadi festival, saying it would promote homosexuality and that impoverished Haiti had other priorities.
“We are very worried about the security of the members of the (LGBT) community who live in this country,” said Charlot Jeudy, president of Kouraj.
“It’s a blow of intolerance,” Jeudy said.
Kouraj announced the festival had been postponed. Jeudy said a new date had not been set, after police commissioner Jean Danton Leger ordered the festival be called off on moral grounds.
The art and film festival, which has also been held in Brussels and Montreal, was intended to raise awareness against homophobia in African and Caribbean communities.
Sen. Jean Renel Senatus said on his Facebook page the festival posed “great danger” to Haitian families and congratulated one of the hosts of the festival for pulling out, saying the money saved should be spent on school education.
Human rights organizations say physical and verbal attacks against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual community regularly go unpunished and that politicians make homophobic comments during electoral campaigns.
One threat on Facebook said Jeudy and his staff should “commit suicide.”
A Kouraj staffer who wanted to remain anonymous said the group feared violence after the cancellation.
“We know the Haitian reality,” she said.
Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Andrew Hay, Additional reporting by Sebastien Malo