Puerto Rico's House of Representatives today passed a comprehensive LGBT rights bill, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, governmental services, public accommodations, and private entities, following the territorial Senate's approval last week. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla has pledged to sign the bill into law.
"Today is a thrilling day in Puerto Rican history," said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s and communications manager for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in a press release. "A decade ago, LGBT Puerto Ricans were criminals under the sodomy law, today we're second-class citizens, and when this bill is signed into law, we will be closer to achieving the first-class citizenship that we deserve." Decades of activism and the election of a more LGBT-friendly government in the U.S. territory last November made the advances possible, the NGLTF noted.
The House today also approved a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity provisions to the territory's domestic violence law. It now moves to the Senate.
Among those who had lobbied for the antidiscrimination bill was one of Puerto Rico's most famous sons, gay actor-singer Ricky Martin. "The rights of gay people are human rights, and human rights are for everyone," he wrote in an open letter to the House this week.