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Puerto Rico debates gay issues amid protests by anti-gay activists

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Amid noisy protests today from anti-gay religious groups and their supporters, Puerto Rico’s lawmakers continued conducting public hearings designed to tackle LGBT issues affecting the U.S. territory often called our “51st state.”

Puerto Rico Pro Family and other anti-gay activists demonstrated outside the capitol and vowed to seek constitutional amendments to ban same-gender marriage and prevent schools from educating students about gender and LGBT issues.

Violence against LGBT Puerto Ricans has been on the rise in recent years, despite gains made toward extending equality to gays and lesbians.

This year, lawmakers extended Puerto Rico’s domestic violence law to include gay and lesbian couples and approved a bill outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In February, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court narrowly voted 5-4 to uphold a law banning same-gender adoption, but signaled to lawmakers that it was up to them to change the law.

Sen. Maria Gonzalez Lopez then filed two bills, one seeking to allow same-gender couples to adopt and the other to create a school curriculum in support of gender equality. The bill, in part, states:

"It's imperative that this legislative assembly recognize and not deny existing families their rights. People's lifestyles are moving further away each time from the concept of a traditional family nucleus."

To learn more about LGBT rights in Puerto Rico, click HERE.