Rights and Struggles of the LGBTT movement in Puerto Rico.

By: Stephannie Guzmán Piñero

Past Thursday, October 24 2013, a press conference was called in a classroom of the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez to discuss the obstacles that the LGBTT community faces to obtain equity in Puerto Rico.

Other topics like how people have changed the way to express their sexual preferences has changed since when they were studying to present.

The panel was compound by the Psychology Professor, Bernadette Delgado; an Anthropology Professor, Dr. Rafael Boglio; Roberto Rivera, Gay-Straight Alliance spokesperson and Gaddiel Ruiz, a poet, activist and sub-graduate Hispanic Studies student.

Claudia Irizarry who was the interviewer, asked the panelists how gay-friendly they consider Puerto Rico; “Puerto Rico is a more gay-friendly territory, I don’t know if you have an idea but in Dominican Republic politics are traditionalist and they don’t have groups who support LGBTT community.” Roberto Rivera answered. “I differ in how gay-friendly we are.” Gaddiel Ruiz added.

When it comes to how much influence do the religious groups have over the legalization of gay marriage and same-sex partners adoption, they all agreed that the church is a powerful controller and mobilizer of masses. According to a Huffington Post article a group name Puerto Rico Pro Family assured that legalizing both issues is not negotiable because is an attempt to change puertoricans families moral values.

Also, Global Voices reported the case of Angeles Acosta and Carmen Milagros Vélez, a couple of lesbians that had their petition of adoption denied by the Supreme Court, who declared it unconstitutional. They even tried to penalize anal sex or “sodomy” in 2002.

On the counter part, LGBTT groups have been growing since the last four years, making the different political parties consider and support them; “Political parties are recognizing our importance.” Roberto said.

Topics as bullying, homoerotic poetry and equality rights were touched but when patriarchy questions were served, “We all end falling into the traditional patterns in the sexuality issue […] One of the reasons used to condemn homosexuals is that they cannot reproduce, but when I was about to marry nobody asked me if I was sterile or not, then why they use this as a reason?” Boglio said.

The traditional view of marriage changes through the perspective of same-sex partners because they swap and share the same gender roles. “I asked my students how many of them come from a traditional family and no more than 10 raised their hands in a group of 30.” Prof. Delgado added.

UPRM counts with an association named Gay-Straight Alliance which serves as support for those students who haven’t come out of the closet, victims of bullying, or as intermediary between a student and his/her parents to discuss sexual preferences with them.

Even though the “Colegio” had have another associations of this nature in the past years, they all ended disintegrated but this one in special is different because of the fact that they encourage the participation of the straight community in the LGBTT issues.

The conference ended with a question of one of the spectators about how people and schools should prevent bullying. To what Bernadette Delgado answer “The first thing to do is to inform and educate people about it.”

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“I believe that we are going to be successful when we learn to respect individuals.” –Bernadette Delgado

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