Puerto Rico Lawmakers Block Vote on Bill to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors

Members of a pro-statehood party in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives on Monday blocked a bill that would have banned so-called conversion therapy for minors.

El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported the New Progressive Party caucus blocked Senate Bill 1000.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló chairs the New Progressive Party.  His Advisory Council on LGBTT Affairs is among the entities that publicly supported Senate Bill 1000.

“I’m saddened,” said Sen. Zoé Laboy, a member of the New Progressive Party who co-sponsored the bill, on Monday, according to El Nuevo Día.

El Nuevo Día further reported that Laboy said the bill’s importance was highlighted in public hearings that took place in the Puerto Rico Senate last year.

“I respect the caucus’ determination, but I do not agree with it,” said Laboy.

Maryland and D.C. are among the jurisdictions in the mainland U.S. that ban conversion therapy for minors.

Puerto Rico’s nondiscrimination and hate crimes law include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Transgender people in the U.S. commonwealth have been able to legally change the gender marker on their birth certificates since July 2018. Socially conservative and religious attitudes that persist across Puerto Rico are among the factors that contribute to continued discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and discrimination, despite the island’s LGBTI-inclusive laws.

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. Activists in the U.S. commonwealth with whom the Washington Blade has spoken say discrimination and violence are among the factors that have left members of the LGBTI community and Puerto Ricans with HIV/AIDS even more vulnerable after Maria.

Workers install a roof onto a Hurricane Maria-damaged house in the Candelero Arriba neighborhood of Humacao, Puerto Rico, on May 26, 2018. Waves Ahead is among the organizations that continue to help LGBTI Puerto Ricans recover from Maria. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Story courtesy of the Washington Blade.