Two bills have been proposed in Puerto Rico that would increase the rights of the LGBT community on the island. One bill would prohibit discrimination for motives related to sexual orientation in areas as employment, rental leases, and other such public or private instances. The second bill would clarify that Puerto Rico’s Domestic Violence Law, no matter the sexual orientation, protects all citizens. The island’s religious groups took the streets to protest these urgently needed measures on the island. In Puerto Rico, violent and non-violent homophobia is rampant. Between 2009 and 2011 alone, more than two-dozen people have been murdered in anti-gay hate crimes.
In a frightening and saddening demonstration of the conservative and patriarchal values that still run deep in Puerto Rican culture, around 200,000 people manifested in the island’s Capitol building on February 18th, with hateful picket signs invoking Christ and misleadingly calling for the defense of family.
Among the demonstrations in favor of the equality bills, one was held days before, on Saint Valentine’s Day. This demonstration took place in the University of Puerto Rico, and its conclusion was a mass kissing. The manifestation clearly illustrated that we are dealing with a clash between hate and love.
The now in power Popular Democratic Party, though ideologically absent minded, is trying to distinguish itself from the previous New Progressive Party government, which was explicitly reactionary in all fronts, including gender issues. Hopefully this will enable the approval of the proposed bills.
Faces of Hate:
Faces of Love at the University of Puerto Rico: