Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Signs New Civil Code That Eliminates LGBT Rights and Protections

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Signs New Civil Code That Eliminates LGBT Rights and Protections

In a surprise move Puerto Rico Governor, Wanda Vázquez signed new civil codes into effect earlier this week that overhauls a series of laws regulating various rights, including LGBT rights. The changes and the fact that no public hearings were held has angered the LGBT community and many of the island’s citizens.


Among the 130 amendments in the newly approved code were provisions that eliminate the ability of transgender individuals to change the name and gender marker on their birth certificates — even though Vázquez claims that the process for amending a birth certificate remains the same — and removes legal protections for LGBT[Q] people that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Vázquez signed the new Civil Code against the backdrop of continued criticism of her administration’s response to the murders of nearly a dozen LGBT Puerto Ricans over the last year and a half.

In a prepared statement Governor Vasquez had the nerve to refernece George Floyd and also quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Abuse, mistreatment, discrimination nor the violation of human rights in any way is neither acceptable nor permitted,” said Vázquez. “We all have a civic duty to respect that is fundamental in a peaceful society.”

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, in a statement noted: “They removed the discrimination bans in order not to include sexual orientation and gender identity. When they gouge LGBT+ (my acronym) people’s eyes out, they gouge everyone’s eyes out.”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also criticized Vázquez.

“With this signature to the Civil Code, the governor makes it clear that she has no words. And worse, she creates the scenario for a rollback of our rights.

On a personal note: This writer had planned a trip to Puerto Rico this November over Thanksgiving. This morning we have cancelled all reservations and airline tickets. We urge all in the LGBT community to do the same and avoid Puerto Rico as a tourist destination.



13 thoughts on “Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Signs New Civil Code That Eliminates LGBT Rights and Protections

  1. Even though Puerto Rico has Commonwealth status. Alarger range of self governance. They still must abide by Federal Law and rules.The First Federal Court based in Boston has jurisdiction. With Mr. Trump in offices, his well noted contempt for Ms. Vasequez will handicap Federal interdiction.,The department of Justice Civil rights division would normally persue this after recieving a complaint. Unfortunately the division is under the direction of Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. appointed by Mr Trump..So even though the amended codes are counter to Federal Law. Nothing will be done. We also know Mr Trump has signed away a lot of the rights enacted by Mr Obama

  2. The people in Puerto Rico are struggling with so much. Including the economy. Many businesses in the tourist region focus in the LGBTQIA+ community. I definitely would not judge those for not going to Puerto Rico however why is there a # of Puerto Rico is Over?? Do you genuinely think that will help the LGBTQIA+ community already suffering in PR? So not only do they have to deal with this, the pandemic, violence, but now those who work have to go broke because they aren’t getting tourists to come to support them? I cant agree with that. Not only do they have to suffer this decision but now you don’t want them to make money to support themselves? Thats not ok. Saying Puerto Rico is over is horrible. Please don’t encourage that.

    1. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and left after completing my college education and getting my commission as a Second Lieutenant in the USAF. I never moved back and sporadically visited my parents throughout years ago. I lived in Ohio for five years anf then moved to California. My experience growing up there was not a pleasant one. A lot of bullying, but that said, it is not worst than my experience in California (I have worked in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles).

  3. This is another travesty in a growing number
    of reversals regarding gay rights. It’s part of the loss of constitutional rights as the USA slides toward fascism under the trump administration. Be aware, be informed. Make a plan. Speak out. Otherwise they will
    come for us

  4. Mr. Kohler, did you read the new civil code and changes? The previous civil code dates back to 1930. While the new code, signed into law, is controversial in that it was updated during the coronavirus pandemic without much public back and forth, it is bringing misunderstanding from both conservatives and the left, with groups from both sides opposing the changes. Even so, the intent of the new civil code does provide some additional safeguards the LGBTQ community and it updates the laws to modern times (such as allowing easier divorces and recognizing abortion). There are those on the left that support LGBTQ rights and support this bill.

    For the most part, I have seen many automatically oppose this bill without having read it. The 2020 Puerto Rican election is in full campaign mode here, and there are many that will automatically oppose whatever Wanda Vázquez does. I would expect a more fair and deeper analysis from you before declaring a boycott of Puerto Rico.

    How does a boycott help the LGBTQ community here? Have we not suffered enough with Hurricane Maria, earthquakes, Covid-19 and unfair US laws that still treat Puerto Rico as a colony? If you would like to advocate for Puerto Rico, please write your US Senators and congress to end the Jones Act (which increases prices of almost all goods in Puerto Rico), or to afford bankruptcy protections to Puerto Rico, or that the US congress recognizes that Puerto Rico has voted for statehood twice in the past 10 years and still has not led any action to figure out the future of Puerto Rico.

    Puerto Rico is the queer capitol of the Caribbean and is so much more advanced for LGBTQ rights than many other islands and countries in the area. Same-sex marriage and adoptions are the law of the land. We do openly welcome the LGBTQ community to Puerto Rico and ask them to join us in celebrating Winter Pride Fest in San Juan this December (3rd annual). Last year we had Alyssa Edwards come for her first time to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has 4 prides annually (Condado/San Juan Pride, Cabo Rojo Pride, Ponce Pride and Winter Pride). While we still have to continue to fight for equal rights in many areas, we are one of the most progressive of the entire Caribbean (and more progressive than many US states).

    1. Robert I think you misunderstand.By updating the code Ms. Vasquez had the opportunity to address these issues. As she did abortion. You mentioned “unfair US laws that still treat Puerto Rico as a colony?”. There have been 2 recent referendums in Puerto Rico. The one in 2012 was basically what congress saw as a tie. There wasn’t a clear Majority for statehood. The referendum in 2017. There was a question of Voter turnout,the controversy of the organized boycott over referendum wording.So congress allotted money for another referendum. I believe there was a referendum in the 80’s too. In that referendum the people overwhelmingly rejected State hood on several points 1. Being Income tax .So it is not as if we haven’t tried!

      The idea of a LGBTQ boycott is nothing new.Ever Heard of Anita Bryant and the Florida Citrus board. LGBTQ Boycotts have brought companies crawling. More recent are Chick Filet and Barrilla pasta. LGBTQ dollars are very powerful.Why do you think at every LGBTQ event absolut pays top dollar to have the back page of programs and publications.

      1. A targeted boycott makes sense yes, like boycotting Chick Filet due to their homophobic policies and support of conservative candidates. However, how does it make sense to boycott an island? We are 3 million people here. And as you have said, Puerto Rico did vote twice for statehood. Whether it was barely a majority or not, the 2012 vote was for statehood. And again in 2017. The US Congress (democrats and republicans) have ignored Puerto Rico’s referendums.

        Yes, Wanda did update the civil code, but tell me what you find so troubling with the update. The proposed law is open to changes before becoming law in 180 days. Please post the verbatim passages that are troubling. I have only seen blind opposition to the new civil code without actual specifics of the wording of the proposed law. And what would you propose as the new text? The time to let Wanda know is now.

        1. It was what wasn’t said actually.It is about what is not said. The section on marriage used to state a man and a woman..now Chapter 31 has over 30 sections on the contract. Not who can enter into a contract. Chapter 11 part 1 on the distinction of persons. .It makes no distinction of who is born. All it does is state if you are born. or a life separate than a corporation.

  5. This was a terrible move, but there’s no reason to call for a boycott of the island and “cancel” PR. The people are struggling post Maria/quake/Trump/corona and now this terrible change, and you’d call to punish them through the only industry that brings in money?

  6. Better to have a huge influx of gay tourists than a boycott. Puerto RIco needs help. Don’t punish the whole island because of her.

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