The Senate of Puerto Rico approved a religious freedom bill known as the Law for the Protection of Religious Liberty in Puerto Rico that critics claim would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in the country, Washington Blade reports. The bill notes the U.S. and Puerto Rican constitutions guarantee freedom of religion.
“It is important to remember the situations of confrontations that the religious sector experienced in the past administration where the public education sector tried to impose an ideology contrary to parents’ Christian principles,” the measure states.
The bill specifically refers to the obligatory teaching of gender ideology in private education through the campaign against child abuse launched in 2014 by former Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s administration. Two years ago the administration said that it would no longer defend the same-sex marriage ban.
García in 2015 issued executive orders that prohibit hospitals from discriminating against patients and allows transgender citizens to change the gender on their driver’s license.
“It must be made absolutely clear that this statute cannot be interpreted with the purpose of discrimination in the way the state provides services. The state has the obligation to always provide public services to all citizens, without discriminating based on race, religion, sex or sexual orientation and gender identity,” says the bill.
The Puerto Rico House of Representatives approved it several months ago. The senators who supported the measure were widely criticized by LGBT rights advocates.
“Your religious liberty cannot impede my rights,” tweeted Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, LGBT advocacy group.
It is still not clear whether Governor Ricardo Rossello will sign the bill. Activists and their supporters urged him to veto the measure.