Thursday, July 20, 2017

Senate to Vote on Bill Condemning Homosexuality

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Samuel Maxime

Editor-in-Chief

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – A bill essentially classifying homosexuality among Haiti’s most appalling crimes was brought to the floor and introduced to the Senate on Thursday towards a vote.

The bill was presented by Senator Jean-Renel Senatus (Ouest/) and regulates the conditions for a citizen to be granted a Certificate of Good Life and Morals[1]. A Certificate of Good Life and Morals is often requested by employers, to prove a prospect has not committed a crime comparable to a “felony”. Unlike most countries, the certificate is also needed to run and/or hold public office.

“Those who engage in child pornography, pimping, child exploitation, polygamy, will not be entitled to a certificate of good character and morals,” said Senator Senatus, who did not fail to mention that homosexuality was part of the offenses. While the other crimes are against Haitian law and would result in “sentences of custodial penalties that may involve the deprivation of liberty, or a penalty of affliction (fines) and infamy (status),” homosexuality, so far, in Haiti, is not among them.

“If two persons of the same sex embrace each other publicly and justice is aware, they will not be able to obtain a certificate of good morals,” said Mr. Sénatus during his declaration. His bill also does not recognize nationals, dual-nationals, of other countries where marriage between two persons of the same sex is authorized. “This is not recognized by Haitian law,” he argued before adding that each country has its own laws.

The Senator of the West does not care that his bill has been labeled anachronistic or homophobic by Haiti’s liberal community and international observers. He said, “I do not know what homophobia is. What is important for us is the Haitian Constitution, our civil code and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which defines the composition of the family.” The former Government Commissioner called the sexual orientation among “imported social behaviors”, “even if it means inventing the concept.”

“The new world order can still impose certain behaviors, but the legislator can judge whether or not these behaviors are in the interests of the population,” said Senatus, insisting on articles 279, 280 and 281 of the Penal Code which punishes attacks on modesty.

However, the parliamentarian acknowledges that every human being has the right to all kinds of assistance and that their rights must be respected.

Also, before granting a Certificate of Good Life and Morals to a minor, the proposed law imposes a tighter inquiries into the affairs of the parents and reporting from school officials. For adults, Jean Renel Sénatus invokes a search with the judicial and police authorities which will give a criminal record and an extract of prosecution, two documents rarely required to obtain the certificate because of the possibility that a judgement had not yet been made.

There is the possibility for someone who has been convicted or has lost his reputation to be rehabilitated and to obtain his Certificate of Good Life and Morals. The law gives the right to rehabilitation, informs Jean Renel Senatus.

The procedure for recovery of reputation may be exercised in the court of first instance five years after the person concerned has finished serving his sentence. In the case of children, reputation recovery is automatic five years after emancipation, according to the senator who pointed out, however, that pedophiles, pimps or those who have used children in armed conflicts will not be able to recover their reputation that after twenty years and a psychological accompaniment.

[1] Certificat de Bonne Vie et Mœurs

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About The Author

Profile photo of Samuel Maxime

Samuel Maxime is a Haitian-born citizen living in the United States. He founded The Haiti Sentinel to bring Haitian issues to an English language audience.