HRC Blog

Puerto Rico Considers Removing Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity from Hate Crime Law

Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

Lawmakers in Puerto Rico are expected to vote this week on a revised penal code that includes stripping sexual orientation and gender identity from a 2004 hate crime law. The legislation – under consideration in the Puerto Rican House of Representatives – also would remove gender expression and ethnicity from the law.

In 2009, gay teen Jorge Steven López Mercado was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico. Since then, violent crimes against LGBT people in Puerto Rico continue to be a serious problem – and law enforcement has faced criticism for not taking hate crimes seriously enough. Since Mercado’s death in 2009, it is believed approximately two dozen people have been murdered in violent crimes influenced by an anti-LGBT bias – six in the past year alone in which the victims were transgender.

The attempt by Puerto Rico’s lawmakers to put members of their LGBT community at increased risk for harm comes the same week the Obama administration announced a historic roadmap for tackling LGBT human rights abuses across the globe. Addressing an international audience earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton equated LGBT rights to universal human rights.

Read HRC’s statement.

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