Last month the Puerto Rico senate approved a provision that would eliminate sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity and religious beliefs from the hate crimes statute that was included in the penal code that lawmakers approved in 2004.
Yesterday singer Ricky Martin spoke out against the removal.
“I’m very sad about the turn the discussion on Criminal Law is taking in Puerto Rico that proposes the elimination of aggravating factors in cases where crimes are committed out of prejudice toward the victim,” the openly gay star said on his Web site.
Martin said that while great nations focus on providing their citizens with basic rights, some politicians in Puerto Rico are doing just the opposite, “promoting inequality and hate.”
“They ought to do their homework and review a little the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…which says that everyone – the citizens – are equal before the law and have, without distinction, the right to equal protection under the law,” he said.
Nearly two dozen LGBT Puerto Ricans have been murdered on the island since late 2009 in what is nothing short of an epidemic of anti-LGBT violence. Those murdered include gay teenager Jorge Steven López Mercado, who was stabbed to death before his decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body was dumped alongside a remote roadside near Cayey in Nov. 2009 and three LGBT Puerto Ricans-Alejandro Torres Torres, Karlota Gómez Sánchez and Ramón “Moncho” Salgado-were found dead within a 72-hour period in June.
LGBT and Dominican activists plan to protest the proposed amendments in San Juan this week.