The leader of a prominent LGBTQ rights organization in Haiti was found dead Monday, according to local reports.
Charlot Jeudy, the executive director of Kouraj - or "courage" in English - was found dead in his home in Petion-Ville, just outside the capital of Port-au-Prince.
The International LGBTI Association for Latin America and the Caribbean (ILGALAC) urges the Haitian government to investigate the "suspicious" death of "one of the biggest defenders of LGBTQ rights in Haiti and in the Caribbean."
"His parents say he has been poisoned," Pedro Paradiso Sotille, the executive director of ILGALAC said in a statement, although the information hasn't been confirmed.
While the police haven't released an official cause of death, activists with OutRight Action International - a New York-based human rights organization that addresses violations and abuses against LGBTQ individuals around the world - also worry that Jeudy could've been a victim of a hate crime.
"I knew Charlot as a bold LGBTIQ leader and fierce advocate fighting for the rights of his community," Jessica Stern, the organization's executive director said in a statement shared with the Daily News.
"Even though the cause of death is yet unconfirmed, we fear it is part of a larger pattern of anti-LGBTIQ violence underway in Haiti, potentially focused on people visible within LGBTIQ organizations," Stern said, referring to Kouraj, OutRight's partner in a multi-year project fighting sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti.
"We call on the police to carry out an immediate, credible and transparent police investigation into the death of Jeudy Charlot. Haiti must protect LGBTIQ people from violence," Stern added.
Four members of Facsidis Haiti LGBT, an organization that fights for the safety of the Haitian LGBTQ community, were victims of an apparent hate-fueled attack on Oct. 17, according to a statement released to the press by OutRight International.
Earlier this month, on Nov. 18, three members of the group were threatened by an angry mob.
Attacks such as these have led the LGBTQ community to live in a constant state of fear, the statement continues, adding that some people are "afraid to leave for work or school or to buy groceries, and some members of the community have even sought temporary relocation to flee the violence.
Neish McLean, OutRight's Caribbean program officer, who worked closely with Jeudy, said he will be remembered "for his fierce and unrelenting work to end the violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ people in Haiti. His warm smile and tenacity will be missed deeply. His legacy will live on in the work reflected by the courage and perseverance of those who remain."
Jeudy was an important voice in Haiti's LGBTQ community, who "continue to suffer high levels of discrimination," according to a 2019 report released by the Human Rights Watch.
"Faced with such permanent and brutal stigmatization, violence, and insults, many of us - if not the totality - have lost hope to see our own dignity respected," Jeudy once wrote on Kouraj's website. "That is what I want to fight."
"We will never be able to say goodbye to such an important man who will forever remain in our hearts," a statement by Facsidis Haiti read.
In an official note, the French Embassy in Haiti demanded clarity from authorities surrounding the circumstances leading to his death.
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