Puerto Rico Governor Signs Two Major LGBT Rights Bills

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Padillo Signs Local ENDA, Domestic Violence Bills

Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Governor of Puerto Rico, signed on May 29, bills into law that protect LGBT Puerto Ricans from discrimination in employment based on gender or sexual orientation.  Governor Padilla also signed a law that extends domestic violence protections and services to gay and lesbian couples.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz set a precedent for the domestic violence expansion when she earlier this month issued a mandate requiring San Juan’s police department to provide equal protection and access to such support services to all citizens, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Earlier Drafts Not Acceptable

The House and Senate in May passed earlier drafts of the antidiscrimination bill that included discrimination protections in housing, governmental services, public accommodations, and private entities. The modified version of the bill removed banning discrimination in commercial transactions, property rentals, public transportation and other circumstances. It had previously passed the Puerto Rico House on May 24th.

But after heavy lobbying by religious groups, according to Associated Press, those provisions were taken out of the measure.

Governor Padilla’s LGBT Platform

Padilla campaigned on a platform that included LGBT equality, and said early on that he would sign the antidiscrimination bill.

On May 29, when Governor Padilla signed the laws, he issued a statement via Twitter from his official residence:

“Today is a great day for Puerto Rico.  I feel that I have fulfilled my duty as a Christian to sign these laws.  The dignity of being a human being is inviolable because we are all the same and we must be equal under the law.”

According to human rights activists, most government agencies in the U.S. territory already have anti-discriminatory policies, but the problem is enforcing them. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is still stalled in the U.S. Congress.   

 

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