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.