By: Natalee N Ríos
On Nov 7, 2013, University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez students organized a discussion panel to educate students and faculty about the LGBTT rights and struggle in Puerto Rico. The panelists were civil rights activist José Rodríguez Irizarry, social sciences professor Luis Nieves, UPRM student and president of the Gay-Straight Alliance Denisse Echevaría, and UPRA education student Elvin Ramos.
Panelists spoke about the progress of LGBTT people in terms of social acceptance and other issues. They were asked about if the gender issue and sexual discrimination should be discussed in school or by parents.
Rodríguez said “By educational talks we can break the ignorance and sow the seeds of acceptance.”
“Religion is the true enemy.” Ramos added, that the reason education doesn’t have exposal is because of religion fundamentalism, “When the people are educated the society has the tools to be compassion.”
“Let them know so they cannot be afraid.”
According to a local newspaper, the acceptation of the LGBTT community is more evident, for example, the expression of Catholic Church leader, Pope Francisco said that love of God is above the moral and religious teachings. “Church should be leading a “house of all” and not a “little sanctuary.”
In the Catholic religion history there were 266 Popes who never said their opinion about the homosexuality. The catholic religion considered it a sin.
While the panel discussion continued, Professor Nieves said that it was difficult to be homosexual back then. They were condemning laws for being homosexual, on the contrary, now they are laws that include LGBTT people and the society are being aware toward accepting the homosexuality.
Senate Bill 238 that Sen. Ramón Nieves Pérez of San Juan presented in January, was approved in Puerto Rico on May 17, 2013 .The law protects LGBTT people against discrimination in work and public places.
Pedro Julio Serrano, human activism and president of National Gay and Lesbian Thank Force, testified in support on the Bill 238. “We are celebrating this victory,” Serrano told the Washington Blade outside the Capitol, “The people are celebrating with us. It is an extraordinary step forward.”
The president of the GSA said that people are more conscious of the LGBTT people acceptation, but inequity still exists in our Country.
Professor Nieves said “the equity is not the same as equality, people tend to confused it. The true is that we will not be the same, because we are not the same”
Equality is the state of being essentially equal. The concept of heteronormativity is an obligatory social norm imposes heterosexuality, in other words LGBTT people have to follow the same rules as heterosexual.
On the other hand equity is the quality of being the same in value or status; furthermore equity is when people get necessary or indispensable according to their ability.
When Rodriguez was ask about if LGBTT community want to be equal he said LGBTT is a group divided into sub-group that everyone has different goals, such as transsexual persons they worry their looks, not marriage like some gay couple.
In the case of the lesbian couple of more than 20 years, who wanted to adopt a girl conceived by vitro fertilization, consequently the Supreme Court forbidden same sex couple to adopt. The contrary could happen if a heterosexual couple would request it.
“It shows that the Supreme Court is prejudiced,” said professor Nieves. The law allows single people to adopt a baby, although couples cannot adopt a baby if they are not heterosexual married couples.
Civil rights activist Rodríguez added that the children who are raised by same sex couples have the necessary love and the same opportunity that the children who are raised by heterosexual couples. The panelist said that the society is slowly reaching the equity.
“We can reach the point when everyone could be happy,” Ramos said. When our grandchildren born they will be, like if they fought for this.”