The Kay Trans Haiti centre has opened its doors in the capital Port-au-Prince to provide safe housing for up to 10 transgender citizens who have been victims of abuse. It is offering shelter for up to a year, arranging free therapy for residents and will pay their rent for up to a year when they leave the shelter. Residents are also allowed to bring their partners to the centre.
One resident, Semi Kaefra Alisha Fermond, 24, told Yahoo News that she faced discrimination throughout her life for being trans, saying as a child neighbours discouraged her from playing with other children. However she continued, ‘I am proud of myself now’.
The centre is funded by a Spanish healthcare company and the United Nations Development Programme, which argued in 2019 there was a greater need to protect human rights in Haiti. Homosexuality is not outlawed, however the Haitian LGBTQ+ community is often subjected to discrimination and violence; in 2017 thousands of anti-queer protestors rallied against the enforcement of a new LGBTQ+ friendly penal code.
According to Equaldex, there are no protections from housing or employment discrimination against LGBTQ+ Haitians, and conversion therapy is still legal in the country. However residents of the Kay Trans Haiti centre told Africa News the neighbourhood surrounding the centre is becoming increasingly accepting. Semi Kaefra Alisha Fermond said the centre is a place where she can be herself.
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