GLAAD, with a little help from singer Ricky Martin, is calling on President Obama to speak out against a string of anti-LGBT murders during his impending visit to Puerto Rico.
From the GLAAD press release:
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, is calling on President Barack Obama to speak out against the hate-motivated killings in Puerto Rico during his Tuesday, June 14 trip to San Juan. GLAAD also launched an online action that urges media to report on the murders: http://www.glaad.org/prmedia.
Singer Ricky Martin also joined the campaign on Monday by re-tweeting a link to the online action.
In the last year and a half, at least 18 gay or transgender people in Puerto Rico have been killed, three of them just last week. Although advocates believe many of these victims’ lives were taken because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, authorities have not been treating the cases as hate crimes.
“As our gay and transgender brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico are being brutally murdered, the mainstream media continues to turn a blind eye,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “News outlets have a responsibility to report on these vicious, hate-motivated crimes and to hold law enforcement accountable for charging suspects appropriately.”
President Obama will visit Puerto Rico, where he will also deliver remarks. Barrios continued, “President Obama should take a stand while in San Juan and send a clear message that hate-motivated crimes will not be tolerated in any U.S. territory — period.”
GLAAD is urging Puerto Rico’s media – and all media that serves a sizable Puerto Rican audience – to report accurately on the state of fear among Puerto Rico’s LGBT community. This fear affects not just gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people but also their friends and family members, both in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. It is the media’s responsibility to expose the lack of adequate investigation by authorities into this wave of anti-LGBT crimes.
Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of the LGBT advocacy group Puerto Rico for Everyone and communications manager for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said Thursday, “It seems they have declared open hunting season against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people. In the past year and a half it is estimated that at least 18 LGBTs have been killed, and that figure continues to rise week by week. The most recent victim is thought to be Karlota Comez who was reportedly a victim of a drive-by shooting.
Puerto Rico enacted an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes law in 2009 yet, despite reports of tens of bias motivated crimes, the extra penalty has reportedly only been invoked once.
Perhaps recognizing this problem, the AP reports that in recent months Puerto Rico’s attorney general has moved to create a committee to investigate hate crimes, and that police officials are expected to meet with LGBT community leaders this week to discuss these serious crimes. However, the administration has remained doggedly quiet on the rash of murders.
TAKE ACTION: PUERTO RICO’S EPIDEMIC OF ANTI-LGBT MURDERS MUST BE INVESTIGATED!
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