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IDAHOT Report 2014: Haiti

Haiti

The Haitian organisation Serovie, which has been providing HIV and AIDS prevention and support services to men who have sex with men (MSM) since 1999 has been taking action on May 17th for several years. This year again, a programme of action marked the day, with an exhibition and sales of art and craft works by community members, round table discussions on human rights, film screenings throughout the day of various LGBT-themed movies, and an evening concert.

From the US Embassy Pressroom:

On Monday, May 19, 2014, the U.S. Embassy, in commemoration of the 2014 International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), invited a group consisting of human rights defenders, government officials, representatives of the Haitian National Police (HNP) and civil society activists to the screening of the film “Milk,” which was nominated for eight academy awards and awarded an Oscar for best writing and original screenplay in 2008.  This film, in which Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn plays the leading role, for which he won his second Oscar, details the life of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist who became the first openly gay politician elected to office in California during the 1970s.

sean pennMr. Sean Penn, who today is well-known for his activism and leadership in relief efforts in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake made a personal appearance to introduce the film and answer audience questions following the screening.  In his remarks, Mr. Penn described how in preparing for the role, he came to know many of Harvey Milk’s surviving friends and political associates.  He explained how this experience not only inspired his award-winning performance, but also deepened his personal commitment to support for equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in America.

On this occasion, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela A. White reiterated the United States Government’s strong support for LGBT rights around the world under the Obama administration, noting: “Although sexual orientation and gender identity remain sensitive issues for many people around the world, including in the United States, dialogue and understanding are key to ensuring the protection of human rights for all people.”  Ambassador White also commended the dedication and bravery of Haitian civil society activists and government officials who continue to fight to advance the cause of LGBT persons in Haiti, and underlined the continued support of the United States Government in this regard.