In the last year and a half, at least 18 LGBT people in Puerto Rico have been killed, four of them in the last month, three of them just this week. Although advocates believe many of these victims’ lives were taken because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, authorities have not yet been treating the cases as hate crimes. And they won’t, unless they feel pressured to do so.
Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of the gay rights group Puerto Rico for Everyone and communications director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said Thursday, "It seems they have declared open hunting season against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people.”
According to The Associated Press, the most recent victim, Karlota Gomez, was shot to death Tuesday by someone driving by her on the street. No one has been arrested.
In late April, another transgender woman, Francheska Gonzalez, was severely beaten by a man while leaving a gas station in the suburb of Rio Piedras. Thankfully, she lived.
Late last year, two young transgender women were shot in the head and apparently run over by a car in the southern city of Juana Diaz. Also last year, the naked and battered body of a transgender woman, Ashley Santiago, was found in her home in the northern town of Corozal.
In a November 2009 case that sparked vigils in New York and Chicago, teenager Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found decapitated and partially burned in Cayey. Andrés Duque at Blabbeando and Mike Lavers have been following the wave of anti-LGBT crimes since November of 2009.
GLAAD is urging U.S. media – and all media that serves a sizable Puerto Rican audience – to report accurately on the state of fear among Puerto Rico’s LGBT community. This justifiable fear affects not just gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people but also their friends and family members, both in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. It is the American media’s responsibility to expose the lack of adequate investigation by authorities into this wave of anti-LGBT crimes.
Join GLAAD in urging all English and Spanish-language media to more aggressively report on these murders and attacks. Our friends, neighbors, family members and loved ones should not be forced to live in fear. Justice for all of Puerto Rico’s gay and transgender victims and their families is overdue. Take action now.