WASHINGTON, May 24 The Puerto Rican House of Representatives today approved a sweeping nondiscrimination bill that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in employment, housing, governmental services, public accommodations and private entities. Last week, the Senate approved the bill in a 15-11 vote and Gov. Alejandro GarcÃa Padilla has vowed to sign the bill into law.
The House today also approved a bill to add protections for sexual orientation, marital status and gender identity to the domestic violence law. It now moves to the Senate.
LGBT rights are advancing in Puerto Rico as a consequence of decades of activism and a change in government last November.
Statement by Pedro Julio Serrano,
Founder, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s,
Communications Manager, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
"Today is a thrilling day in Puerto Rican 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. Puerto Rico will be for all."
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director,
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
"We celebrate with the Puerto Rican LGBT community this amazing milestone. The sweeping nondiscrimination bill that will become law with the signature of Gov. GarcÃa Padilla is a testament to the resiliency and steadfastness of the Puerto Rican LGBT community and its allies.
"The Puerto Rican LGBT community has endured an epidemic of anti-LGBT violence that has taken more than 35 lives in the past three years. Nonetheless, this community has continued to stand strong in the face of adversity and today can celebrate this glorious victory. We thank all the activists that have been part of this effort, especially our own Pedro Julio Serrano, who has been a steadfast and uncompromising leader in this struggle."
To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, visit www.theTaskForce.org and follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce ( www.twitter.com/thetaskforce&; .