February 20, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Puerto Rico Supreme Court upholds gay adoption ban
Gay News, Washington Blade, Puerto Rico, Hate Crimes

Pedro Julio Serrano (Photo courtesy of Pedro Julio Serrano)

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowly upheld the island’s ban on gay adoption.

The 5-4 ruling came in response to an unidentified woman who sought to adopt her partner’s child that she conceived through in vitro fertilization. The two women had argued the American commonwealth’s law that prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children is unconstitutional.

Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force described the decision as “nefarious” in a statement.

“The constitution is clear: All citizens should be treated equally and their dignity should not be violated,” he said. “This decision violates, threatens and challenges these two premises of our Magna Carta. The Supreme Court has once again failed the Puerto Rican people.”

Gay Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin also criticized the decision.

“How sad,” he said in a Twitter post. “I see this as turning our backs on childhood. So many orphans want to have the warmth of one home.”

The court issued its decision a day after advocates met with Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to discuss anti-LGBT violence and other issues on the island.

Tens of thousands of people who oppose the proposed inclusion of sexual orientation in Puerto Rico’s domestic violence law marched through the streets of San Juan, the commonwealth’s capital, on Monday. Many of those who took part in the protest held signs in support of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Serrano and other activists have repeatedly criticized Puerto Rican officials for not doing enough to combat anti-LGBT hate crimes on the island in the wake of gay teenager Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado’s 2009 death.

The Puerto Rico Police Department agreed to strengthen its response to hate crimes as part of an agreement it reached with the Justice Department in December. Prosecutors in Mayaguez earlier this month announced they will seek a first degree murder as a hate crime charge against a man who allegedly used a machete to kill a gay hairdresser after he reportedly became enraged because they were unable to catch fish in three local rivers.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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