Haiti’s first LGBT film festival has been cancelled following threats to burn down the venue it was set to be held in.
Festival organisers received death and arson threats via social media and telephone calls. The Massimadi festival was also pushed to be cancelled by senators, who said the festival would “promote homosexuality.”
On Facebook people left comments telling organisers to “commit suicide.”
An anonymous Kouraj staffer confirmed that the group feared violence after the cancellation. “We know the Haitian reality,” she said.
The Port-au-Prince police ordered organisers to ban the festival after senators said the festival posed “great danger” to Haitian families.
The festival hosts were later congratulated for calling off the celebration and were urged to spend the money that was saved from not running the festival on school education.
A new date has not been set for the festival as the police commissioner, Jean Danton Leger, ordered that it was called off on moral grounds.
The Haitian LGBT group, Kouraj said they would be closing their offices for a week because of the security issues following the threats.
President of Kouraj, Charlot Judy, said: “We are very worried about the security of members of the community who live in this country. It’s a blow of intolerance.”
The festival intended to raise awareness of homophobia in African and Caribbean communities.
Human rights organisations say physical and verbal attacks against members of the LGBT community often go unpunished. They also report that politicians frequently use homophobic rhetoric during election campaigns.