Organizers have called off the Massimadi festival celebrating Haiti’s Afro-Caribbean lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community because of threats of violence and government opposition.
The Massimadi festival was first put on in 2009 in Montreal by a group called African Rainbow. It has also been held in Belgium. This was the first year it was scheduled to take place in Haiti.
Organizers of the cultural festival in Haiti celebrating the LGBTQ community said Tuesday that it has been called off due to numerous threats of violence and a subsequent prohibition by a government commissioner.
The four-day Massimadi film, art and performance event was supposed to start Tuesday in Port-au-Prince, but organizers said it had to be postponed as a prominent Haitian cultural institution known as FOKAL and other co-hosts were threatened with arson and other attacks.
“FOKAL has been receiving threats of outrageous violence,” said Lorraine Mangones, executive director of the nonprofit Knowledge & Freedom Foundation.
“Our festival was postponed precisely because there has been a verbal ban by the government commissioner of Port au Prince, Jean Danton Leger,” said Jeudy Charlot. “Homosexually is frowned upon, perceived as evil. At times, they may be ridiculed, they can be attacked.”
Senator Jean Renel Senatur previously condemned the attempt to start the Massimadi festival in Haiti. “This festival aims to promote homosexuality in our country – to convey values that are contrary to our social mores,” he said.
The Massimadi arts and film festival is held each year in Brussels and Montreal and is targeted at Afro-Caribbean communities.