More than two years have passed since the massive earthquake in Haiti, and still its effects remain a hefty daily reality for hundreds of thousands of people. One of the lessons emerging from this disaster is the increased need to be mindful of improving humanitarian aid for vulnerable populations, like the LGBT community.
After the earthquake, LGBT survivors faced increased persecution as religious leaders and community authorities blamed the disaster on the LGBT community. It was suggested that gays and lesbians had angered God and that their sins had brought this quake upon the country. There were reports of LGBT people being left to die in the rubble of their houses as well as physical and sexual violence stemming from the scapegoating.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, along with SEROvie which is an LGBT rights oriented HIV services organization in Haiti, documented the arrest of 40 lesbian women in a camp for people who had been displaced by the quake. These lesbians were charged with indecency and immorality and many like them have become the victims of “corrective rape” since the disaster occurred.
Gay and bisexual men are being affected by the insecurity of food distributions, as rations are provided to “traditional family” structures with female heads of households who are considered to be more likely to distribute rations more equitably to their families. This food distribution policy has left many male-only households to have to rely on lesbian women to share their food rations.
This is just some of the evidence that suggests government agencies and international aid groups must be mindful of vulnerable populations when disasters strike. It is crucial that the LGBT community, though often considered invisible, not be forgotten in times of greatest need.