Hate is a Crime

By: Diego Delgado Tamariz

On March 6, 2014, in the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, a discussion panel titled “Hostigamiento y crímenes de odio por orentación sexual“(Harassment and Hate Crimes by Sexual Orientation) was part of the “V Coloquio ¿ Del otro lao ? – Perspectives of Queer Sexualities,” an three day event where professionals of the theme offered panels and roundtables. The panel was presented by Joel Ayala, commissioner of civil rights, and UPRM professor Luis Nieves at the amphitheater Ramón Figueroa Chapel, Chardón building.

The audience was scarce in the amphitheater but the staff of the “Coloquio” assisted the audience with good impetus and clarifying the audience that they are here to inform and help everyone. A table at the center of the stage and the podium at the left with a screen at the back of the stage was the setup of the panel where Prof. Luis Nieves started the panel.

Professor Luis Nieves and attorney Joel Ayala answered questions to members                        of the audience and Coloquio staff.


The professor presented a study of statistics where 86 queer-identified persons responded to certain questions about their experiences in life. Fifteen percent of the participants answered that an agent of the public order has harassed them. One of the participants commented, “Sometimes I feel scared to walk or grab my couple’s hand in a public place.” Luis Nieves completed his presentation exhorting that more studies like this are needed to help the queer movement.

On the other hand Ayala stated on the panel that a hate crime is not only killing, prejudice is also included. Nieves concluded his presentation by making a statement; “hate crimes and prejudice are present in areas like academics, family, and cultural”.

In an interview at the end of the panel, Adrianna Rivera, a nursing student at UPRM, described in three words the prejudice in the island:” It’s worrying, disregarding, and shocking.” She added that she attended the panel because this is really important for the country and the world. Rivera has been working in social projects since high school.



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