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More than 10,000 people urge Puerto Rico to not eliminate hate crimes protections for LGBT people

News release from Change.org:

Change.org campaign started by Puerto Rican citizen Jorge Sepulveda urges Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives to keep hate crimes laws in place. Since 2009, more than two dozen LGBT people have been murdered in Puerto Rico.

WASHINGTON, DC – More than 10,000 people have joined an urgent campaign on Change.org calling on Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives to drop efforts to eliminate hate crimes protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Puerto Ricans.

The campaign was started by Jorge Sepulveda, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He started the petition after the Puerto Rican legislature made sweeping moves to remove hate crimes protections for LGBT people. Last week, the Puerto Rico Senate voted to remove portions of the law that protected LGBT people, and now the Puerto Rico House of Representatives is considering doing the same.

“I would hate to return home to a place where me and my people are not protected,” said Jorge Sepulveda.

Supelveda hopes his petition on Change.org will show the Puerto Rico House of Representatives that the global community won’t stand for legislative efforts that put LGBT people in danger.

Since 2009, more than two dozen LGBT people have been murdered in Puerto Rico. One of those murders involved the death of a 19-year-old gay man who was found decapitated, dismembered, and burned by the side of the road.

Puerto Rico’s National Police Department has also been criticized for failing to deal with violence toward the country’s LGBT population. The Justice Department recently issued a report suggesting that the National Police should take hate crimes toward LGBT people more seriously.

“Straight and LGBT people in Puerto Rico and around the globe are calling on Puerto Rican lawmakers to keep hate crimes protections in place,” said Michael Jones, a senior organizer for Change.org. “It’s really impressive to see so many people from Puerto Rico and beyond join Jorge Sepulveda’s Change.org campaign and take action against LGBT hate crimes in Puerto Rico.”

The vote in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives is expected to happen by the end of the day on Friday, December 9.

Click here for live signature totals from Jorge Sepulveda’s campaign.

From HRC, Human Rights Campaign:

HRC Condemns Efforts to Remove Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity from Puerto Rico’s Hate Crime Law

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – is strongly condemning maneuvers by lawmakers in Puerto Rico to strip 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.

“It would be unconscionable for Puerto Rico’s leaders to remove sexual orientation and gender identity from existing hate crime protections,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “This sends the dangerous message that it is acceptable to harass or harm LGBT people and would leave victims of hate crimes with no legal recourse. I urge Puerto Rico’s lawmakers not only to reject this homophobic legislation, but to push more aggressively to protect the well-being of LGBT Puerto Ricans.”

In 2009, gay teen Jorge Steven López Mercado was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico. He was badly burned and his body was dismembered. 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.

“Earlier this week, President Obama and Secretary Clinton made a bold commitment to aggressively protect human rights abuses, specifically those committed against LGBT people. It sent a clear message that the policy of the United States was that all people – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – are deserving of the same dignity and respect,” added Solmonese. “Puerto Rico’s lawmakers should take heed of this and follow suit to ensure that LGBT Puerto Ricans can live in safety rather than an environment that tacitly condones hate crimes.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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I believe this "law" violates the United States federal hate crime law
"Puerto Rico has authority over its internal affairs. United States controls: ...constitutionality of laws, jurisdictions and legal procedures... Puerto Rican institutions control internal affairs unless U.S. law is involved..."

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