Under the guise of outlawing employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, legislators in Puerto Rico on Friday approved a heavily debated bill some say only serves to promote homosexuality in the conservative U.S. territory.
The bill's wording is too far reaching, said Rep. Javier Aponte Dalmau, who believes the territory has other judicial means to address potential discrimination.
In a statement, Puerto Rico for Family, a local Christian organization, maintained the gay and lesbian community in Puerto Rico has not proved it faces greater employment discrimination than other groups, suggesting the legislation’s supporters had another agenda: “This law creates a base to promote homosexuality and other conducts in schools.”
The island’s Constitution already addresses discrimination, other legislators who voted against the measure, said.
Still, it passed in a simplified version. The original bill was broader and also would have banned such discrimination when it comes to personal transactions, property rentals, and public transportation.
The measure's author, Sen. Ramon Luis Nieves, told reporters he is not bothered that the original version was not approved.
“This is not insignificant,” he said. “This is a great victory in the fight for human rights in Puerto Rico.”
Legislators on Friday also approved a separate bill that extends a domestic violence law to homosexual couples.
Both bills will now go to the Puerto Rican Senate, which is expected to approve them. The governor has pledged to sign both measures.