Wednesday, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla signed two bills into law – one prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and one that includes same-sex couples in the domestic violence law.
The AP reports:
The original measure would have also banned discrimination in commercial transactions, property rentals, public transportation and other circumstances. Those clauses were removed after heavy opposition by religious groups.
Most government agencies in the U.S. territory already have anti-discriminatory policies, but human rights activists say they are often not enforced.
Lambda Legal released the following statement from Francisco Dueñas, Coordinator of Proyecto Igualdad:
“This is a big step forward for the LGBT community in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico joins 21 other jurisdictions in the United States that expressly ban discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and 15 that also cover gender identity.
“These laws will provide recourse to LGBT Puerto Ricans facing discrimination at work and relief for victims of domestic violence. This is an historic turning point and we will continue to advocate for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that include protections against discrimination in housing, public accommodations, governmental services and private entities.
“We congratulate the many outstanding LGBT leaders and advocates in Puerto Rico and our colleagues at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force who fought so hard for this victory. We thank the Puerto Rico lawmakers who voted for the bill and Governor Alejandro García Padilla for his leadership on LGBT issues. We also support the efforts of Senators Ramón Luis Nieves and María Teresa González to secure comprehensive nondiscrimination protections and to extend second-parent adoption rights to same-sex couples, respectively.
“Americans overwhelmingly support job protections for LGBT people. In particular, 83% of Latinos support laws that protect gay people from discrimination in housing and employment. Following Puerto Rico, Congress should work to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) to make sure that all LGBT people across the country have workplace protections.
“This legislation will provide a powerful tool for Lambda Legal to continue fighting for equality in court for LGBT people and those living with HIV in for Puerto Rico.”