January 13, 2018 at 12:24 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
LGBT Haitians condemn Trump’s ‘shithole countries’ comment

LGBT rights advocates in Haiti have condemned President Donald Trump after he reportedly described their country as a “shithole.” (public domain)

LGBT rights advocates in Haiti on Friday condemned President Trump after he reportedly described their country as a “shithole.”

Reginald Dupont, executive director of Foundation SEROvie, an HIV/AIDS service organization that is based in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, described the comment as “a major affront to the dignity of peoples.” Josué Azor, a photographer who documents Port-au-Prince’s LGBT nightlife, on Friday said there are “a lot of people reacting after the Trump comment.”

“Most of them are expressing how shocked and pissed off they are,” Azor told the Blade.

The Washington Post on Thursday reported Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as “shithole countries” during an Oval Office meeting on immigration. Trump also reportedly said the U.S. should allow more immigration from Norway and Asian countries.

The Haitian government has summoned a U.S. official to explain the comment, which Trump on Friday said he did not make. CNN reported U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is among the lawmakers who attended Thursday’s meeting, told reporters on Capitol Hill that Trump “said these hateful things.”

The U.N., the African Union and the government of El Salvador have all condemned Trump’s reported comments that have sparked outrage around the world. The Botswanan and Senegalese governments on Friday summoned the U.S. ambassadors in their respective countries.

Trump made the comment on the eve of the eighth anniversary of an earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti in 2010.

Josh Seefried, a former Air Force captain, on Friday wrote on Facebook that he had been stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey for a few months when the earthquake struck. He said he helped Haitians who had been evacuated from the country off their airplane, get passports and provide them with “any immediate help they required.”

“People were so grateful when I could lead them to a cot, get them some food and water and help them track their family down,” wrote Seefried. “It was probably the most humbling but memorable experiences I ever had while in the Air Force.”

“Words can’t describe how disgusting it is to have our President call countries which have struggled so much, a ‘shithole,'” he added.

The Trump administration last November said Haitians will no longer receive protected immigration status in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program, which allows people from countries that have suffered war or natural disasters over the last two decades to receive temporary residency permits. The White House on Monday announced El Salvador has been removed from the list of TPS countries.

The New York Times last month reported Trump in June said during a meeting in the Oval Office that the 15,000 Haitians who received visas to enter the U.S. in 2017 “all have AIDS” and the 40,000 visa recipients from Nigeria would never “go back to their huts.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders strongly denied the report.

Former U.S. ambassador: Trump’s comments are ‘hate speech’

Haiti borders the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster on Friday noted to the Blade that he traveled to Haiti several times when he was ambassador from 2013-2017.

Brewster, who is among the six openly gay men who were U.S. ambassadors during the Obama administration, said he saw “a challenging economic situation, but a proud and vibrant people.” Brewster described Trump’s reported comments as “an offense, but (not) just to those in Haiti and African countries but to everyone in the U.S., our embassies and anyone who has a sense of humanity.”

“The office is the president and if any country reflects to the world who we are as a people,” Brewster told the Blade. “This is not who we are! This is racist, hate speech.”

“What is frightening is that I do not think he believes what he said was wrong and doesn’t believe he is a racist as is the case with the few that follow him,” he added. “I just want the world to know that he does not represent the majority of Americans. We believe in diversity and respect for everyone.”

Brewster said as ambassador he “worked to pull together those who saw people of color as something other than their equal.” He also questioned why the Republicans who attended Thursday’s meeting at the White House have yet to publicly condemn Trump’s comments.

“Where are our lawmakers on the Republican side who were in the room,” asked Brewster. “When are they going to stand up as humans and say enough is enough from this racist man.”

Wally Brewster, Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade

Then-U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster, left, and his husband, Bob Satawake, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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