Disturbing reports of an escalating series of anti-LGBT violence and homicides in Puerto Rico. Three LGBTs were killed within three days, the latest discovery happening Tuesday in Humacao, reports Michael Lavers at EDGE.
Primera Hora reported that Ramón “Moncho” Salgado was found dead along the side of a highway in Humacao on the island’s eastern coast. Thomas J. Bryan Picó, executive director of la Fundación Gaviota, told the newspaper that Salgado was a 46-year-old gay man who lived in Humacao. “Primera Hora” reported that Salgado’s body showed signs of blunt trauma.
Bryan pointed out that Salgado is the third LGBT Puerto Rican who has been found dead in 72 hours. As EDGE reported late Monday, June 6, a transgender woman was found shot to death in a Santurce intersection. Karlota Gómez Sánchez’s body was discovered roughly 48 hours after Alejandro Torres Torres was found stabbed to death in Ponce.
The rash of reported anti-LGBT crimes in Puerto Rico started in November 2008 when 19-year gay Jorge Steven López Mercado was brutally killed and dismembered near Cayey. In December 2008, another gay man was killed. In April 2009, the body of Ashley Santiago Ocasio, a transgender woman, was discovered in a bloody crime scene near San Juan.
At least 18 LGBT indviduals have been killed in Puerto Rico in the past 18 months, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which released this statement from Communications Manager and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s founder Pedro Julio Serrano:
"The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force stands in solidarity with the LGBT community in Puerto Rico and sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of Karlota Gómez Sánchez, Ramón Salgado and Alejandro Torres Torres. As someone who grew up in Puerto Rico and has been very active in its LGBT community, this is a heart-wrenching moment. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all of the victims’ loved ones at this difficult time. Justice must prevail. This is about members of the Puerto Rican LGBT community feeling safe in their communities and being able to take care of the ones they love. We call upon the authorities and political leaders to effectively address this epidemic of anti-LGBT violence. This must stop now."
In June 2010, the Commonwealth's attorney general announced the creation of a special commission to investigate hate crimes. To date, Puerto Rico's Republican Gov. Luis Fortuño, who resisted efforts to prosecute the López case a hate crime, has yet to publicly comment on that or any other anti-LGBT hate crime. But the conservative anti-gay governor has called for a constitutional marriage ban against same-sex marriage.