Puerto Rican Anti-LGBTQ Homicides Continue

Puerto Rico LGBTQ

A string of homicides has shaken Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ community, where in the last eighteen months 18 people have been murdered, the majority of which have been gay men and transgender women. In the last week alone, three of these murders have taken place. The victims include Ramón Salgado, who was found dead along the side of a highway in Humacao,  Karlota Gómez Sánchez, a 19 year old transgender woman shot in Santurce, and Alejandro Torres Torres, who was stabbed in Ponce.

Although Puerto Rico’s 2002 hate crime law outlines sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected minority group, and being a U.S. territory, federal hate crimes legislation also applies to the island, authorities in Puerto Rico have responded slowly to the sharp increase in crimes against LGBTQ people.

In addition, despite a recent commitment from Puerto Rican law enforcement to undergo hate crime trainings the island’s authorities have been hesitant to classify the string of attacks as hate crimes.

As such many activists and LGBTQ organizations are speaking-out against these recent homicides.

“The alarming rate of violence against LGBT Puerto Rican’s cannot be tolerated,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese in a statement.  “Puerto Rican government officials and law enforcement, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, must ensure that LGBT people have the protection they need to survive.  When a community has to live in constant fear of violence and even death for who they are, everyone suffers.”

In addition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) asked for President Obama to speak out against the murders during his visit to Puerto Rico, a sentiment reiterated by the international Puerto Rican pop-star Ricky Martin who re-tweeted the call to action.

“President Obama should take a stand while in San Juan and send a clear message that hate-motivated crimes will not be tolerated in any U.S. territory — period,” said former GLAAD President, Jarret Barrios.

However, on Tuesday, June 14 when President Obama visited the U.S Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the first president to have done so since Kennedy in 1961, he did not speak out against the killings despite the LGBTQ community’s request.

Nonetheless, GLAAD reports that on Wednesday, June 15th The Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s (Puerto Rico for Everyone) met with the island’s authorities to discuss the homicides and the practice of classifying them as hate crimes, when applicable.

“We call upon the authorities and political leaders to effectively address this epidemic of anti-LGBT violence,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s communications manager. “This needs to stop now.”

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Jacky Guerrero

Jacky decided to ditch a career in mainstream media and dedicated her free time towards launching xQsí which has become her passion. Her interests are anything queer and running wild on summer nights. She currently lives in South Los Angeles with her genderqueer cat Leon.

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  • Juan Diego

    Que ‘sta pasando puerto rico??!! Wepa!