LGBT and human rights groups have published statements calling on the Puerto Rican government to take action and help end what has been called an epidemic of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans citizens in Puerto Rico where a spate of murders has rocked the community over the past year and a half, with three killings reported in just the past few days.
While these murders have affected the entire community, it seems that trans citizens have been especially targeted.
From the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is calling upon authorities to act immediately to address the ongoing anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) violence in Puerto Rico. In the past week, three LGBT individuals have been killed. On Tuesday, Ramón Salgado was found dead along the side of a highway in Humacao; Karlota Gómez Sánchez, a transgender woman, was shot to death in Santurce on Monday; and Alejandro Torres Torres was stabbed to death in Ponce on Saturday. Task Force staff is currently on the ground in Puerto Rico working with local authorities, the press and the community to respond to this crisis.
In the past year and a half, 18 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 urges them to respond adequately to this wave of violence.
Statement by Perdo Julio Serrano, Founder, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Communications Manager
“The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force stands in solidarity with the LGBT community in Puerto Rico and sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of Karlota Gómez Sánchez, Ramón Salgado and Alejandro Torres Torres. As someone who grew up in Puerto Rico and has been very active in its LGBT community, this is a heart-wrenching moment. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all of the victims’ loved ones at this difficult time. Justice must prevail. This is about members of the Puerto Rican LGBT community feeling safe in their communities and being able to take care of the ones they love. We call upon the authorities and political leaders to effectively address this epidemic of anti-LGBT violence. This must stop now.”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese also released a statement condemning the violence and calling on U.S. officials to take this matter seriously: “The alarming rate of violence against LGBT Puerto Rican’s cannot be tolerated. Puerto Rican government officials and law enforcement, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, must ensure that LGBT people have the protection they need to survive. When a community has to live in constant fear of violence and even death for who they are, everyone suffers.”
Puerto Rico enacted an inclusive hate crimes law in 2009 but officials seem reticent to recognize violent crimes against LGBT citizens based solely on their LGBT identity given the law has only once been invoked.
This is a long standing problem. Indeed, a coalition of New York City elected officials and LGBT organizations released a report in 2010 that gave a frightful picture of the “hate-motivated violence” against Puerto Rico’s LGBT citizens over the eight years since the hate crimes law was passed.
A number of victims of hate-motivated attacks were identified by the report: Lonrry Lemus Pérez, Humberto Bonilla Rodríguez, Fernando López de Victoria, Michell Galindo, Sandro Díaz Maysonet, Víctor Rodríguez, Jammal Torres, Ramses Flores, Leonardo Gamallo, Elías Algarín, Jorge Santos, Luis Rodriguez, Angie González, Ashley Santiago, Jorge Steven López Mercado.
You can read the report here.
The AP reports that in recent months Puerto Rico’s attorney general has created a committee to investigate hate crimes, and that police officials are expected to name a liaison with the LGBT community shortly, however they seem to have remained silent on the deluge of anti-LGBT violence Puerto Rico currently faces.
TAKE ACTION: PUERTO RICO’S EPIDEMIC OF ANTI-LGBT MURDERS MUST BE INVESTIGATED!