Things That Matter

Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ Community Is Under Attack And The Government Is Doing Little To Help

The Coronavirus has shaken Puerto Rico as it’s faced more than 2,000 cases and 114 deaths. And this health pandemic has come amid the island’s ongoing recovery from a string of earthquakes and Hurricane Maria. But the island is also suffering from an epidemic of anti-LGBTQ violence.

In 2020 alone, there have been more than 10 murders of LGBTQ individuals – five of them have been trans women and authorities have solved only three of them. For many in the community, it’s a shock to see that the island is right back where they were ten years ago when the island suffered another rash of LGBTQ-targeted killings.

Hate crimes have risen amid the island’s struggle to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Gabriella Baez / Getty

Puerto Rico has been hit by an “epidemic of violence” with five transgender murders in two months.

Opposition lawmakers and campaigners called on the government to publicly acknowledge and investigate the violence, after the bodies of two trans women were found inside a charred car last week and another trans woman was killed in February. 

“Trans people are living in fear, they are terrified,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, spokesman for the Broad Committee for the Search for Equality, an LGBT+ rights advocacy group. 

“It’s as if they’ve opened hunting season against the LGBT+ community, and they’re hunting us, they’re looking for us and they are killing us,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Trans women have been particularly targeted in several gruesome attacks.

Out of the 10 deaths affecting the LGBTQ community, five of them have been trans women.

One woman was killed after being placed in a men’s prison after authorities refused to admit her to a women’s prison. There, she was beaten, tortured, raped and hanged. Her attackers have since been arrested and convicted.

Two trans women were shot and then burned alive in their vehicle. And then another trans women, Alexa, was brutally attacked after being followed by groups of social media trolls

”The killing of a person believed to be a transgender woman that has shocked and angered many in Puerto Rico is likely a hate crime,” Gov. Wanda Vázquez said Tuesday.

“Everything points to this being a hate crime, and that’s how it will be treated,” she said.

Homophobic rhetoric from politicians and religious leaders may have fuelled the bloodshed. 

The current Puerto Rican government has been embroiled in scandal after scandal and much of it has revolved around it’s obvious homophobic rhetoric. The government is working to roll back hard on protections, including adoption rights, hospital visitation, and abortion rights.

Puerto Rico’s leaders have also attempted to pass a ‘religious liberty’ bill that would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

When a government gives permission to discriminate, you’ll see the spike in violence like the island is seeing. If the government isn’t going to do anything to stop the violence and the police are less likely to investigate, society feels like it can literally get away with murder.

For many, the growing violence is a shock considering Puerto Rico has been making progress against homophobia and transphobia.

Just ten years ago, Puerto Rico suffered another rash of homophobic violence after eight gay and bi men were killed in the span of a couple of months. Their murders shocked much of the country and led to the progress that many borinqueños are proud of.

While many other Caribbean islands outlaw gay sex, the U.S. territory has introduced legal reforms, legalising same-sex marriage in 2015 and allowing trans people to change their gender on birth certificates in 2018.

In fact, Puerto Rico enacted legislation and protections that secured it’s spot at number 20 among the 55 U.S. states and territories when it comes to LGBTQ protections.

FIERCE LGBTQ Couples Are Sharing How They Met And It’s The Sweetest Thing

Fierce

FIERCE LGBTQ Couples Are Sharing How They Met And It’s The Sweetest Thing

Charles McQuillan / Getty

As we highlight Pride month, we wanted to share beautiful stories of LGBTQ+ love. To do so, we recently asked our FIERCE readers on Instagram to tell us how they met their partners and the results were not only hilarious but deeply inspiring.

Love is love and we love this kind of love.

Check it out!

The old slide in trick.

“I slid into the DMs.” – joanacanna

On their start to being ~educated latinas~

“My girlfriend and I met at the end of our first year of law school. She would say that I curved her for a few months before we became close. Almost three years later, we are both attorneys and looking forward to where life takes us.” – legalricanmujer

These two lovers who met while pushing for a joint interest

“We met in boot camp! 10 years ago (we’ve been together 2 /1/2 years, married 1 yr.” –hey_itsaj18

Chicas who started out on the same path and stuck together.

“We met in Nursing school we graduated together. That was 4 years ago, she’s a psychiatric nurse and I’m a geriatric nurse.” – m_a_r_i_a__j_o_h_a_n_n_a

They found love in a pandemic place.

Love in the time of Corona, thanks to Hinge!” – bienvenidarealidad__

Turns out the internet is the ultimate matchmaker.

“On the HER app. The same day she liked my profile she ended up coming into my job. I saw her but she didn’t see me. I ended up messaging her that night when I got off of work & we have been inseparable ever since. 3 years later and everyday I fall in love with her over & over again.” – _yourfavoritepoet_

And this is the most hilarious one of all.

“My wife @chulaworldand I were both seeing the same guy (total 🐶) …… so when we found out about each other we met up! And we have LITERALLY been inseparable ever since. Married on 4/20/19.” –bunuelitas

Protestors In Puerto Rico Bringing A Guillotine To The Governor’s Mansion Is Just Another Reminder Boricua’s Don’t Mess Around

Things That Matter

Protestors In Puerto Rico Bringing A Guillotine To The Governor’s Mansion Is Just Another Reminder Boricua’s Don’t Mess Around

@JoshuaPotash / Twitter

Like every other Latin American country and state, Puerto Rico has a long and torrid history with racism.

On the island, hundreds of protestors are now also taking place in the demonstrations that were sparked by the death of African-American police victim, George Floyd. In an effort to combat racism, protesters marched outside the mansion of Governor Wanda Vázquez in Old San Juan. Meanwhile, they chanted and demanded justice for George Floyd while also demanding change in Puerto Rico.

Ignoring the island’s coronavirus curfew, protestors took to the street and protested with all sorts of messages, but the one that truly caught those of us watching was the moment when protestors brought in a guillotine.

As anger and frustration continued to fuel the demonstrations, protestors brought in a massive guillotine to the Governor’s Mansion.

Shariana Ferrer-Núñez, a member of Puerto Rico’s Feminist Collective Under Construction, told Democracy Now that “We recognize that we must dismantle white supremacy, we must dismantle a racialized system, we must eradicate anti-Black violence” about the demonstrations.

According to the blog Orlando Latina, “For Puerto Rico’s elected class, the guillotine ought to be a terrifying symbol, as indeed it was during the French Revolution. But I doubt it, for the political class is a self-serving, self-dealing “firm” that has become unmoored from the people on the ground and oblivious to its needs.”

Here’s hoping this symbol hits elected officials in Puerto Rico enough to attempt to make change.