Puerto Rico: Amnesty urges lawmakers to take ‘historic’ steps to protect LGBT people

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Amnesty International is urging lawmakers in Puerto Rico to end discrimination against LGBT people, as two bills are due for debate this week.

Back in January, both the House and Senate in the country, agreed to debate the two bills, which aim to better protect the rights of LGBT people. Amnesty said the country had a “historic opportunity” to move forward with protecting LGBT citizens.

Senate Bill 238 would ban discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in employment as well as in public and private services.

Its partner legislation, House of Representatives Bill 488, seeks to extend existing domestic violence protections to any person regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Pedro Santiago, Director of Amnesty International Puerto Rico, said: “The approval of these two laws would be a big step for justice and equality for an important sector of Puerto Rico’s population, which to date has fallen victim to institutionalised discrimination.

“These two measures would expand the protection of rights for LGBTI people in Puerto Rico. Our legislators should be brave enough to overcome prejudice when making new laws. Human rights are not a matter of choice but of justice, and all people are entitled to enjoy them regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court narrowly voted 5-4 in February to maintain an island law banning adoptions by gay parents.

Several rallies against LGBT rights have taken place this year, with a demonstration in February attracting over 200,000 people.