Jeudy Charlot, one of Haiti’s leading LGBTQ activists, was found dead at home in Pétion-Ville on Monday. Some activists fear that Charlot was the victim of a hate crime.
Charlot, 34, was the executive director of Kouraj (“Courage”), the most prominent LGBTQ organization in Haiti. The organization has been partnering with OutRight International, a New York-based LGBT human rights organization. Members of OutRight are suspicious that Charlot’s death was the result of homophobic violence.
“I knew Charlot as a bold LGBTIQ leader and fierce advocate fighting for the rights of his community,” Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight, said in a press release. “Even though the cause of death is yet unconfirmed, we fear it is part of a larger pattern of anti-LGBTIQ violence under way in Haiti, potentially focused on people visible within LGBTIQ organizations.”
Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Haiti, like it is in some other Caribbean countries. However, stigma remains high, and anti-LGBTQ attacks are common. An angry mob attacked several members of another LGBTQ organization, FACSDIS, just last week.
Some LGBTQ people in Haiti have resorted to staying at home, afraid to leave the house for work or school. Charlot himself had to cancel a 2016 LGBT+ festival due to threats of violence.
This environment made Charlot’s work all the more important.
“I’ll remember Charlot for his fierce and unrelenting work to end the violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ people in Haiti,” another member of OutRight, Neish McLean, said.
“Charlot was one to never be silenced,” Kennedy Carillo added, “and his tenacity and commitment to the fight for LGBTIQ justice and equality will not be forgotten.”
OutRight is calling for an “immediate, credible and transparent police investigation” into Charlot’s death. Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, tweeted his condolences to Charlot’s family and acknowledged the country’s “climate of intolerance.” He added that he hopes that the cause of death is clarified quickly.