Addressing anti-LGBT violence in Puerto Rico

As part of an ongoing effort to respond to the epidemic of anti-LGBT violence in Puerto Rico, Task Force staff and others met with U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) last Friday on Capitol Hill. The Task Force’s Pedro Julio Serrano was at hand to brief the congressman about the ongoing work on the island to curb this violence.

In the past year and a half, 20 LGBT individuals have been killed in Puerto Rico. The local hate crimes law requires authorities in Puerto Rico to investigate whether the murders were motivated by the victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity and the Task Force continues to urge them to respond adequately to this wave of violence.

The Task Force has been in Puerto Rico on numerous occasions to respond to the scourge of anti-LGBT violence. This includes responding to the killing of Jorge Steven López Mercado, a 19-year-old student murdered in Cayey in November 2009. Last year, the Task Force’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable convened one of its semi-annual meetings in Puerto Rico to stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican LGBT community.

This year, the Task Force participated in the International Day Against Homophobia march in San Juan and has been very active in denouncing the attacks against LGBT individuals in Puerto Rico. The Task Force also assisted in the response to the brutal bashing of Francheska González, a transgender woman who was beaten but survived last April. The Task Force will continue to help local activists with efforts to curb the anti-LGBT violence in Puerto Rico.