Report documents anti-LGBT hate crimes in Puerto Rico
A coalition of activists and elected officials gathered at New York City Hall on Tuesday, July 12, to release a report on suspected anti-LGBT hate crimes in Puerto Rico.
The press conference took place a little more than a week after authorities found a transgender woman shot to death in Loíza, a small town east of San Juan. The group - New York City Stands in Solidarity with the Puerto Rican Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community - found more than 20 LGBT Puerto Ricans have been killed in possible bias-related murders since the territory added sexual orientation and gender identity to its hate crimes statute in 2002. Prosecutors have not applied the law to any of these cases, but coalition members stressed it remains crucially important to stand alongside their LGBT colleagues on the island.
"We are here to be in solidarity with the LGBT community," said Guillermo Chacón, executive director of the Latino Commission on AIDS.
Chacón traveled to Puerto Rico in January with New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn [D-Chelsea], City Councilmembers Daniel Dromm [D-Jackson Heights], Melissa Mark-Viverito [D-East Harlem], Rosie Mendez [D-Lower East Side], Jimmy Van Bramer [D-Sunnyside], Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and others from the five boroughs and Chicago. The delegation met with murdered gay teenager Jorge Steven López Mercado’s family, local politicians and activists. And the City Council honored López’s family at its annual Pride event last month.
Mendez lamented the fact more LGBT Puerto Ricans have been killed in her homeland since the trip.
"We are now here in New York because we have had seven anti-gay and anti-transgender murders in the last eight months," she said. "This is unacceptable and the government has to do something. We are here today to say no more."