LGBT rights in Puerto Rico
|LGBT rights in Puerto Rico|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal|
|Military service||Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly|
|Discrimination protections||Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity are not prohibited|
|Statute limits marriage to one man/one woman (1999)|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons in Puerto Rico face some legal issues. Public discussion and debate about sexual orientation and gender identity issues have increased, and some legal changes have been made. Currently, both supporters and opponents of legislation protecting the rights of LGBT persons can be found in either of the major political parties. Public opposition still exists due, in large part, to the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church and socially conservative Protestants. However, Puerto Rico's status as a United States commonwealth has a great influence over legal rights of LGBT citizens, as the U.S Supreme Court has the ability to overturn Puerto Rican laws that the court finds unconstitutional.
 LGBT in Puerto Rico
 Civil rights
Puerto Rico has not had any national legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, a gay rights bill (House Bill #1725, covering sexual orientation only) was introduced on 21 May 2009 in the island's House of Representatives, and it was finally approved by an overwhelming margin (by a 43 to 6 vote) on 11 November 2009. House Bill #1725 would have amended existing Puerto Rican civil rights laws to forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, public transportation and public facilities, business transactions,and housing. The proposed bill did not have provisions to protect transgender individuals.
The bill was referred to Puerto Rico's Senate, and discussions in that Chamber started 18 December 2009. The Senate Committees for Labor & Human Resources, and for Civil Matters, were both reviewing the measure. However, the then-President of Puerto Rico's Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz (a vocal opponent of legislation protecting LGBT rights), categorically stated in early April 2010 on the Senate floor that Project 1725 would not be approved by the Senate. In sum, during the term of the Senate that ended in January 2013, there were no Senate hearings yet on the measure, and no public hearings were scheduled to discuss the bill.
Governor Luis Fortuño (a member of the island's New Progressive Party and affiliated with the mainland Republican Party), who was the island's governor at that time, indicated that any gay rights law needs to state exemptions for organizations that object to homosexuality on the grounds of beliefs.
Puerto Rico is also covered by U.S. federal law, most notably the Matthew Shepard Act, pertaining to hate crimes, which was recently amended to include sexual orientation and transgender persons as protected categories.
In addition to these developments, there are portions of the proposed revised Civil Code for Puerto Rico that have been reviewed by both Houses of the Legislature that impact LGBT residents. This included a proposal to insert into the Civil Code a provision to allow post-operative transsexuals to change the gender noted on their birth certificates. On the other hand, there is concern that some proposed clauses that invalidate so-called common law marriages may actually result in the reduction of rights (for example hospital visitations) for same-sex couples. It is significant that Puerto Rico's Roman Catholic Archbishop had proposed a concept called "shared residency" (residencia compartida) that would allow same sex couples hospital visitation rights and inheritance and insurance rights as well. However, the discussions surrounding these proposals have included demands by some conservatives that the Constitution be amended to forbid same sex marriages or civil unions.
In 2013, a new measure seeking to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ramón Luis Nieves. Known as Senate Bill 238 -Proyecto del Senado 238-, the proposed legislation assured the required votes for its approval when 14 other senators joined as co-sponsors. The bill is currently under review by the Senate's Commission on Civil Rights, Citizenship Participation and Social Economy, and it's pending a favorable report there before heading to the floor.
House Bill 488 -Proyecto de la Cámara 488- was also introduced in this legislative session. Authored by Rep. Luis Vega Ramos, Carlos Vargas Ferrer and José Báez Rivera, it aims to extend domestic violence protections to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
 Sodomy laws
In 2002, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that the commonwealth's ban on sodomy was not unconstitutional. In 2003, however, the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional all state and territorial statutes penalizing consensual sodomy, including Puerto Rico's, in the case Lawrence v. Texas.
This prompted opponents of the anti-gay law to focus their efforts to persuade lawmakers the change the law, which they did in 2005. Same-sex relations between consenting adults were officially legalized with the approval of the new Penal Code in 2005.
Military defense of Puerto Rico has been the responsibility of the U.S. military, pursuant to the Treaty of Paris (1898) under which Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States. The U.S. military formerly had a "don't ask, don't tell" (or DADT for short) policy regarding LGBT service members, and this presumably applied to the island's National Guard as well. The law was repealed by the U.S. Congress in December 2010, and on 22 September 2011 finally was phased out completely.
In 2008, the Commonwealth's Senate passed a proposed referendum to voters that would have amended Puerto Rico's Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, banning same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnership benefits. Better known as resolución 99 (resolution 99), the constitutional amendment was not approved by the Commonwealth's House of Representatives, after the legislative committee studying the proposal concluded not to recommend its approval. A similar bill was defeated in 2009.
In early January 2010, Governor Luis Fortuño made comments to a group of evangelical ministers that were interpreted that he would favor an amendment to Puerto Rico's constitution that would restrict marriage to the union of one man and one woman. However, shortly afterwards he categorically denied that he favored such a measure.
In early April 2010, there were reports that two members of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives (Iván Rodríguez Traverzo and Norman Ramírez Rivera) were planning to reintroduce a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. 
 Political parties
Politicians from the Partido Popular Democrático and the Partido Nuevo Progresista de Puerto Rico, which are the island's two main political parties, include both supporters and opponents of LGBT rights. This was most recently demonstrated by the House of Representatives vote on 11 November 2009, approving Bill 1725 (forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation). The bill passed by a vote of 43 to 6, with most Representatives from both parties voting in favor. The six Representatives voting against the bill were equally divided between both parties.
The Puerto Rican Independence Party is a member of the Socialist International, and is on record as supporting full rights for LGBT citizens. Other smaller left wing pro-independence groups are also on record supporting LGBT rights. In the Puerto Rican general election, 2012, all of the recently founded parties -Movimiento Unión Soberanista, the Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party, and the Working People's Party of Puerto Rico- supported marriage equality and banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
On 6 November 2012, Popular Democratic Party candidate Pedro Peters Maldonado became the first openly gay politician elected to public office in the island's history, when he won a seat on San Juan's city council.
 See also
- Pedro Julio Serrano
- Politics of Puerto Rico
- LGBT rights in the Americas
- LGBT rights in the United States
- "Cámara de Representantes de Puerto Rico Decimosexta Asamblea Legislativa P C1725 Certificación de Votación". 11 November 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- Andrés Duque (27 November 2007). "Puerto Rico: In lieu of civil unions, de Castro Font offers "shared residence" measure". Blabbeando.blogspot.com. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- "Puerto Rico's Sodomy Law Just "Tip of the Iceberg"". Thegully.com. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
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- "Puerto Rico gov. allows referendum against gay marriage". USA Today. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- Good news for gays of Puerto Rico[dead link]
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- Unlimited Studios. "Fortuño proposes ban on same-sex marriage". Prdailysun.com. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- Los partidos políticos y las comunidades LGBTT from PedroJulioSerrano.com 19 September 2012
- Homosexual gana por primera vez unas elecciones en la Isla from El Nuevo Dia 7 November 2012