Members of Puerto Rico’s gay community are outraged at the island’s authorities for being tolerant of homophobia which has, in turn, seemingly encouraged the killing of 10 of the island’s gay community members.
Activist Pedro Julio Serrano, of the Everyone Association, said there’s a feeling of “institutionalized homophobia” that it not being addressed.
Serrano’s accusation comes after the shooting of Miguel Orlando “La Flaca” Soto and Justo Luis “Michelle” Gonzalez. Each was a young transsexual found dead on September 13th on a highway in the town of Juana Diaz.
With the deaths of Soto and Diaz, the number of murders jumps to 10 since last October, when gay man Michell Galindo Rullier’s body was found on a San Juan beach naked and showing signs of violence.
Mario Rodriguez, director of the web site OrgulloBoricua.net said that statements like Senate speaker Thomas Rivera Schatz’s opinion that publicly branded gays as sick, perverts and criminals, has made it apparent that authorities clearly do not defend the gay community.
Along with the comments made by the speaker, Serrano spoke of a young gay who was sexually assaulted but a baseball bat, an abuse that according to the activist was not classified as a hate crime because of the prosecutors’ prejudices. Ponce Region, chief detective, Richard Nazario has publicly showed his ignorance of the Hate Crimes Law. Many Puerto Rican residents say they have also witnessed Puerto Rican police refer to members of the gay community in humiliating ways, yet they are the ones meant to protect the people.
To further alienate the community, Resolution 107, being promoted by some members of government, proposes a referendum on an amendment to the island’s constitution stating that marriages can only be unions between a man and a woman.
Singer and Puerto Rico native, Ricky Martin has met with Serrano and also urged authorities to handle hate crimes appropriately.
“Accepting diversity is the first and most important step we can take towards eliminating hate crimes and uniting humanity,” Martin said in a 2009 press release.