Puerto Rico To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors

Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló has announced his decision to sign an executive order banning gay conversion therapy on minors.

People take part in the annual Gay Pride parade in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on June 3, 2018
Image: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images

Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló has said he will issue an executive order banning so-called gay conversion therapy on minors.

Rosselló announced his decision on Wednesday, just days after the New Progressive Party – a pro-statehood party that Rosselló himself chairs – on Monday blocked a vote in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives on a bill that would have banned conversion therapy for minors on the island.

Latino Rebels has reported that two of Puerto Rico’s elected representatives, Jorge Navarro and Juan Oscar Morales, have told a local newspaper they support conversion therapy.

“As a father, as a scientist and as governor of everyone in Puerto Rico, I firmly believe that the idea that there are people in our society who need treatment due to their gender identity or those who love is not only absurd, but it is harmful to so many children and young people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” the governor remarked.

He added “I strive for Puerto Rico to be a society in which everyone, no matter who they love, can be accepted and live without fear of persecution. This includes the most vulnerable in society, our children, who must be supported and loved. Conversion therapy does not benefit anyone in any way, it only causes unimaginable pain and suffering.”

These statements are in line with a widespread consensus among legitimate therapists that conversion therapy is ineffective and carries severe mental health risks. Earlier this month, Irish therapists’ association IACP released a statement condemning the practice.

Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, San Juan, has applauded the governor’s decision. She wrote on Twitter “Conversion therapies are inhumane and seek to deprive human beings of their dignity. Love is love. It is a simple concept. The compatriots of the LGBT+ community love, period. And love always, always wins over hate. ALWAYS.”

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated organised territory within the US commonwealth and federal law applies there – as the First Circuit Court of Appeals had to remind Puerto Rican judge Juan Pérez-Giménez in April 2016, when he made an attempt through a local District Court to ban the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling legalising same-sex marriage across the nation.

In Puerto Rico, compared to other US territories, LGBT+ people still face high levels of prejudice and violence. Earlier this year, gay trap artist Kevin Fret was shot dead in a homophobic attack in San Juan.

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