BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Puerto Rico's House of Representatives passed a "sweeping nondiscrimination bill" protecting queer people in the areas of housing, employment, governmental services, public accommodations and private entities, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund says in a May 24 statement.
The Senate approved the bill in a 15 to 11 vote last week, and Governor Alejandro García Padilla has promised to sign the bill into law. The House also gave the thumbs-up to a bill adding protections for sexual orientation, marital status and gender identity to the domestic violence law, the statement adds. That measure will now proceed to the Senate.
"LGBT rights are advancing in Puerto Rico as a consequence of decades of activism and a change in government last November," the Task Force statement says.
Pedro Julio Serrano, the founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, said it was "a thrilling day" in the country's history. "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. Equality is inevitable."