Puerto Rico governor creates LGBTT advisory council
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed an executive order Wednesday to create the Advisory Council for LGBTT Affairs to develop initiatives that benefit the island’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual community.
In a Facebook Live broadcast, the governor announced and signed the executive order from La Fortaleza, accompanied by the adviser of Calidad de Vida and director of the Women’s Council, Johanne Vélez, LGBTT activist and Centro Comunitario LGBTT founder Cecilia La Cruz, and deputy legal adviser Alberto Valentín. Even Rosselló’s daughter, Claudia, appeared during the last seconds of the broadcast.
The governor said the creation of the advisory council was one of the commitments pledged in his Plan for Puerto Rico campaign platform, which added that he would protect vulnerable sectors.
“This council will be working with some consolidated initiatives that have already been started to stop bullying in schools, to ensure that there is respect, so there isn’t discrimination in areas of economic and social development, and so we can collaborate on the provision of services with community organizations and nonprofits,” Rosselló said.
Civil rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano reacted to the executive order and the new council with suspicion, arguing that Rosselló’s administration “has taken LGBTT community rights away.”
“To believe in the integrity of this LGBTT advisory council, the first thing its members would have to do is demand that Rosselló restore protections for trans students so they may dress and use the bathroom according to their gender identity. Likewise, they must demand to reestablish education with gender perspective in schools. If they don’t do it, this council is [a touch-up for] the homophobia in the New Progressive Party [NPP],” Serrano said in a written statement.
The signing of the executive order takes place days after controversial House Bill 1018 was approved to create the Religious Freedom Protection Act, a measure many consider discriminatory against the island’s LGBTT community. The governor opposed the bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Serrano also criticized the approval of H.B. 1018, “which pretends to legalize discrimination against LGBTT people.” He recalled that NPP legislators “have voted against LGBTT rights at every opportunity they’ve had,” in bills such as the one that amended the Domestic Violence Act to protect that sector, and appealed same-sex marriage.