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Latino Daily News

Monday June 13, 2011

Murders in the LGBT Community in Puerto Rico Continue as Officials Do Nothing

Murders in the LGBT Community in Puerto Rico Continue as Officials Do Nothing

Photo: Murders in the LGBT Community in Puerto Rico Continue as Officials Do Nothing

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In just a year and a half, the LGBTQ community of Puerto Rico has been rocked by the deaths of 18 of its members, with three murdered in the last week alone.

Pedro Julio Serrano, communications manger for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said there has been a “spike in violence against the LGBT people since the ‘80s, when we had a serial killer who killed 27 gay men.”

In a press release, the task force identified those that lost their lives.

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.

Allies and advocates on both the island and the mainland are working to urge the government to do something about the increasing violence against the LGBTQ community, but with government and religious officials using anti-gay rhetoric, Serrano says it’s hard to get law enforcement to do anything.

“Part of the problem is we have a government that’s been silent on these murders. The president of the Senate has called LGBT people ‘twisted’ and ‘mentally ill’ and that incites violence.” Adding, “also we have religious leaders that have been using language that also incites that violence, and we hold them accountable for these crimes as well.”

Even stars like Ricky Martin, who relatively recently came out as gay, have been asked to “not promote homosexuality.” This request for Martin came from Luis Aponte Martínez, Archbishop Emeritus of San Juan de Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico is a place of love, acceptance and inclusion and these few people with hateful rhetoric against LGBT individuals are killing us,” said Serrano. “Even though we are suffering and this is heart wrenching, the love of the families and the people and all the funerals have been filled with hundreds of people—that tells you where PR is, not where the leaders wants us to be.”