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Haiti may ban same-sex marriage, public support for LGBTQ rights

A gay rights group in Haiti said Monday it is fighting to head off a proposed law that would ban same-sex marriage as well as any public demonstrations in favour of LGBTQ people in the Caribbean country.

A bill passed by the Haitian Senate last week provides for up to three years in prison and a fine of about $8,000 for either party to a marriage not between a man and a woman. The bill also would prohibit any public support or advocacy for LGBTQ rights.

Haitian law already specifically defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

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Charlot Jeudy of the gay rights organization Kouraj said the legislation would violate Haiti's constitution and his group will try to persuade members of the Chamber of Deputies to reject it.

"We have the right to protest and we have the right to be who we are and we have the right to be free," Jeudy said in an interview.

Jeudy said his group has been collecting signatures on a petition that it hopes to present to sympathetic lawmakers in the chamber. A vote has not yet been scheduled.

LGBTQ people have long faced discrimination in Haiti. In September, a cultural festival celebrating the community in Port-au-Prince was cancelled the after organizers received threats and a local government official said he would prohibit the event he said violates the country's moral values.

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