Puerto Rico activists criticize religious freedom, conversion therapy bills

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Above: (Image by Nicolas Raymond; courtesy Flickr)

Activists in Puerto Rico have sharply criticized two bills they say will allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló on Tuesday at a press conference that took place at his official residence in San Juan announced the introduction of Senate Bill 1253, which would “clarify certain religious freedom principles” in Puerto Rico, and Senate Bill 1254, which would ban so-called conversion therapy in the U.S. commonwealth. Johanne Vélez García, president of the governor’s Advisory Council on LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender) Issues and LGBTT Community Center of Puerto Rico Executive Director Cecilia La Luz, who is also a member of the council, were among those who stood alongside Rosselló as he discussed the measures.

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SAGE opens Puerto Rico chapter

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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An organization that advocates on behalf of LGBT seniors has opened a chapter in Puerto Rico.

SAGE CEO Michael Adams is among those who attended the ceremony in San Juan on Oct. 24 that marked the official establishment of SAGE Puerto Rico. Wilfred Labiosa and Grissel Bonilla, co-founder of Waves Ahead, a group that is helping LGBT Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria that devastated the U.S. commonwealth on Sept. 20, 2017, also attended the event.

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Puerto Rico: A year after Hurricane Maria

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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SAN JUAN — Sept. 20 marked a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

Many of the U.S. commonwealth’s more than 3 million residents are trying to return to some sense of normalcy, but signs of Maria’s destruction remain visible throughout Puerto Rico. Anger over the pace of recovery and President Trump’s response to Maria remain widespread across the island.

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San Juan mayor: Trump ‘unhinged from any sense of reality’

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Wednesday reiterated her sharp criticism of President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico a year ago.

“More than 3,000 people have died, that’s for sure,” she told the Washington Blade during an interview in Old San Juan. “They died of neglect. They died because they couldn’t have their insulin refrigerated because we didn’t have power. They died because hospitals weren’t ready and because hospitals didn’t have power. Those are deaths that could have been preventable and they weren’t.”

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Puerto Rico’s first LGBT monument undamaged by Hurricane Maria

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part interview with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz that the Washington Blade conducted on Nov. 1, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in D.C. Part one of the interview can be found here.

The mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on Wednesday said Hurricane Maria did not damage the U.S. commonwealth’s first LGBT-specific monument.

Carmen Yulín Cruz on June 26, 2016, formally unveiled the monument — which is located in San Juan’s oceanfront Third Millennium Park — during the city’s annual Pride parade.

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San Juan mayor struggles to help people with HIV/AIDS

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part interview with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz the Washington Blade conducted on Nov. 1, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in D.C.

The mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on Wednesday said her government is doing everything it can to help people with HIV/AIDS in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Carmen Yulín Cruz noted to the Washington Blade during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center there is a clinic for adults and children with AIDS in San Juan. She said officials “stocked up” on medications and other supplies before Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico’s southeast coast on Sept. 20 with 155 mph winds.

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