Puerto Rico, one of the last places in this part of the globe that should be considering fanning the flames of anti-gay violence, is moving closer to doing just that. Details follow.
The Puerto Rican Senate is inching closer to giving the thumbs-up to hate crimes against its LGBT citizens, according to its passage of a bill that would remove sexual orientation and gender identity and expression from its current hate crime law.
Reports Boy in Bushwick:
The Puerto Rico Senate late last month approved a provision that would eliminate sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity and religion from the current statute—political status, age and disability would remain. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the amended penal code during a special legislative session.
Representative Héctor Ferrer, Sen. Eduardo Bhatia and LGBT and Dominican activists blasted the proposed provisions earlier on Sunday, Dec. 4. “It’s an outrage and now we’re calling upon the House to restore this to where it should be,” said Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
You might recall that Puerto Rico has garnered plenty of headlines over the past few years for a string of horrific anti-gay hate crimes.
ThinkProgress expands on the developments:
The island enacted hate crimes legislation in 2002, covering crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but activists say that authorities are ignoring the measure. Justice Secretary Guillermo Somoza said his office’s special task force on hate crimes found there “have been 23 murders of gays and transgender people since the fall of 2009,” an underestimate given that the police often fail to classify anti-LGBT hate crimes as such. Under the measure, if someone “is found guilty of a hate crime they automatically face the maximum sentence for the underlying offense. If the offense is murder, it means life in prison.”
Lawmakers plans put LGBT activists in a rare alliance with those who point fingers at gay groups over "religious opression"; as noted above, the update to Puerto Rico's hate crimes law would also remove religion as a protected class from hate crimes laws.