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Haiti's First LGBT Film Festival Postponed After Threats, Police Ban

  • Reuters

An LGBT pride flag hangs on a bookshelf by a Massimadi festival poster, right, at the the Kouraj organization office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 27, 2016. The four-day Massimadi film, art and performance event was canceled because of threats of violence and a police ban.

An LGBT pride flag hangs on a bookshelf by a Massimadi festival poster, right, at the the Kouraj organization office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 27, 2016. The four-day Massimadi film, art and performance event was canceled because of threats of violence and a police ban.

Haiti's first LGBT film festival has been postponed after opponents threatened to burn down a building it was to be held in and Port-au-Prince police issued an order to ban it, organizers said.

Death and arson threats came by phone and in social media, members of the Haitian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group Kouraj said.

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.

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 of homophobia in African and Caribbean communities.

Senator 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 schools.

Human rights organizations say physical and verbal attacks against members of the LGBT and intersexual community regularly go unpunished and that politicians make homophobic comments during electoral campaigns.

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