CARIBBEAT: Death of LGBTQ leader Charlot Jeudy in Haiti puts spotlight on discrimination and violence

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Early in Thanksgiving week, the news came that the Haiti LGBTQ leader Charlot Jeudy was found dead in his home in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. He was 35.

Concerns about foul play in his death and calls for thorough investigations have been raised since his body was discovered on Nov. 25.

The Associated Press reported it wasn’t immediately clear how Jeudy died, and police did not return calls for comment.

Jeudy was the head of a Haiti-based organization that worked to defend human rights for homosexuals and transgender people in Haiti and combat discrimination and violence. The organization is called Kouraj in Haitian Creole — which means courage in English.

According to the AP, Jeudy — an outspoken advocate against homophobia — was forced to cancel a Afro-Caribbean LGBTQ community festival in 2016 due to threats of violence.

The U.S.-based Haiti Advocacy Working Group coalition is one of the organizations praising Jeudy for his commitment and calling for an investigation into his death.

“Charlot carried his message promoting gender equal-rights for all people, not just across Haiti but onto the international stage as an example for others to follow. We urge local authorities to continue a full investigation into the cause of his premature death,” the group tweeted last week.

The AP reported that Haiti’s LGBTQ community remains mostly underground because of a strong social stigma, but unlike English-speaking Caribbean islands, there are no Haitian laws criminalizing homosexual relations.

However, a 2015 human rights report on Haiti by the U.S. State Department said “local attitudes remained hostile to outward” LGBTQ identification and expression, especially in the capital, said the AP.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti issued a statement on Jeudy’s “untimely passing,” his tireless advocacy for human rights and equality in Haiti and offered condolences to the late leader’s friends, family, and colleagues.

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