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Jeudy Charlot, one of the leading LGBTQ advocates in Haiti, was found dead at his home Monday morning, and some activists fear he was the victim of a hate crime.
Charlot, whose name is alternatively rendered as Charlot Jeudy, was the executive director of Kouraj ("Courage"), one of a very few LGBTQ organizations in the Caribbean nation. He was found at his home in Petion-Ville, a community near the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
"I knew Charlot as a bold LGBTIQ leader and fierce advocate fighting for the rights of his community," Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, 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. We call on the police to carry out an immediate, credible, and transparent police investigation into the death of Jeudy Charlot. Haiti must protect LGBTIQ people from violence."
Kouraj had partnered with OutRight in a multiyear project to combat sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti. Violence against LGBTQ people has been on the rise in the nation. Another Haitian LGBTQ organization, FACSDIS, has reported several recent incidents of violence, OutRight notes. Four FACSDIS members were attacked October 17, with some of them sustaining injuries, and at least three members of the group were confronted by a hostile mob last week.
Although Haiti, unlike several other Caribbean countries, does not criminalize homosexuality, LGBTQ Haitians are subject to much stigma and discrimination, according to the Associated Press. Charlot had to cancel an LGBTQ festival in 2016 because of threats of violence.
OutRight staffers recalled Charlot as a tireless freedom fighter. "I'll remember Charlot for his fierce and unrelenting work to end the violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ people in Haiti," Neish McLean, the group's Caribbean program officer, said in a press release. "His warm smile and tenacity will be missed deeply. His legacy will live on in the work reflected by the courage and perseverance of those who remain."
"Charlot was one to never be silenced, and his tenacity and commitment to the fight for LGBTIQ justice and equality will not be forgotten," added Kennedy Carrillo, OutRight's Caribbean research officer. "Now more than ever we must loudly condemn his death and the continuous attacks on the LGBTIQ community in Haiti."