Laws

PUERTO RICO

Limited information only available for these topics

Access to Children
Adoption of Children
Age of Consent
Anti-Vilification
Artifical Insemination
Assisted Reproduction
Asylum / Refugees
Civil Unions
  Custody of Children
Discrimination
Fostering Children
Gender Identity
Harassment
Hate Crimes
Health, Medical
  HIV/Aids
Homosexuality
Immigration
Inheritance
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Marriage
Military
  Parenting
Partners
Property
Sodomy
Transgender, Transsexual
Violence
Wrongful Death

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Civil Unions, Partners: Domestic, Registered Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In January 2013, Governor Alejandro García Padilla reportedly signed an order extending health insurance coverage to the domestic partners of workers in his executive branch of government, regardless of gender [R1.1].

R1.1 HuffingtonPost: Puerto Rico's Gay Rights Battle Slowly Heats Up 02 MAR 13
Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 10 August 2015. Governor Alejandro García Padilla issued two executive orders, one specifically prohibits hospitals from discriminating against potential patients based on their gender identity when they seek treatment in an emergency room. The second mandate allows trans Puerto Ricans to change the gender on their driver's license [R1.6].

On 29 May 2013, Governor Alejandro García Padilla signed into law an employment nondiscrimination act protecting LGBT Puerto Ricans from discrimination in employment [R1.5].

On 24 May 2013, the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive LGBT rights bill, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, governmental services, public accommodations, and private entities. The bill now moves to the governor for his promised signature [R1.4].

On 16 May 2013, the Senate approved 15-11 Bill SB238 that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and government services in the US territory. SB 238 will now go to the House of Representatives [R1.3].

On 15 January 2013, Senator Ramon Luis Nieves introduced a Bill that would if passed, make it a crime to discriminate against people based on their gender or sexual orientation at work, in public places, and during transactions including renting or selling property [R1.2].

In April 2002, Article 2.1 of the Puerto Rican Constitution protected against discrimination based on "race, color, sex, birth, origin or social status, political or religious beliefs" [R1.1] but not sexual orientation or gender.

Article 8 upholds the right to privacy.

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 30 September 1998, a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional a disciplinary rule that prohibited Puerto Rico police officers from associating with lesbians and gay men. Police Regulation 29 stated that "it is a grave offense for police officers to associate with prostitutes, homosexuals, or other persons of dubious reputation." Police officers who violated this regulation risked official reprimands or even dismissal [R2.1].

R1.6 WashingtonBlade: Puerto Rico governor bans anti-transgender discrimination 11 AUG 15
R1.5 The Advocate: Puerto Rico Governor Signs Local ENDA, Domestic Violence Bills 29 MAY 13
R1.4 The Advocate: Puerto Rico House Approves Antidiscrimination Bill 24 MAY 13
R1.3 Washington Blade: Puerto Rico Senate approves non-discrimination bill 16 MAY 13
R1.2 SFGN: Puerto Rican Officials May Approve Anti-Discrimination Bill 17 JAN 13
R1.1 IGLHRC ERN: "Support Sodomy Law Repeal, Rape Law Reform" 30 APR 02
R2.1 IGLHRC: International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) Reports
Gender Identity, Intersex,
Transgender, Transexual

[?]
Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [DISCRIMINATION]
1.

National

On 12 May 2015, Secretary of Education Rafael Roman said new regulations mean public school students can for the first time choose to wear pants or skirts as part of their uniform regardless of their gender without being punished [R1.2].

On 10 August 2015. Governor Alejandro García Padilla issued two executive orders, one specifically prohibits hospitals from discriminating against potential patients based on their gender identity when they seek treatment in an emergency room. The second mandate allows trans Puerto Ricans to change the gender on their driver's license [R1.1].

R1.2 LGBTQnation: Puerto Rico relaxes school uniform rules for gay students 12 OCT 15
R1.1 WashingtonBlade: Puerto Rico governor bans anti-transgender discrimination 11 AUG 15
Hate Crimes Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [VIOLENCE]
1.

National

On 01 January 2013, outgoing Secretary of Justice Guillermo Somoza reportedly promised new rules for hate crimes and new Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla pledged to tackle anti-gay violence [R1.4].

In November 2011, a Senate committee reportedly approved a bill amending the hate crimes law so only political status, age, and disability are left. If the Bill becomes law, removed are violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity and religious beliefs [R1.3].

Puerto Rico is also covered by US federal law, most notably the Matthew Shepard Act, pertaining to hate crimes, which was recently amended to include sexual orientation and transgender persons as protected categories.

In 2005, hate crimes based on sexual orientation [R1.2] and gender identity [R1.1] were made an aggravating circumstance.

R1.4 GayStarNews: Puerto Rico to have new hate crime laws to protect gays 01 JAN 13
R1.3 The Advocate: What's a Hate Crime? In Puerto Rico, They Aren't Sure 05 DEC 11
R1.2 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, 14 MAY 08
R1.1 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 700.06kb, 13 MAY 09

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Health, Medical Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In 2013, two new laws now include LGBT families in public and private healthcare plans on the island [R1.2].

In January 2013, Governor Alejandro García Padilla reportedly signed an order extending health insurance coverage to the domestic partners of workers in his executive branch of government, regardless of gender [R1.1].

R1.2 ABC News: Pedro Julio Serrano On Status of LGBT Rights in Puerto Rico 30 JUN 13
R1.1 HuffingtonPost: Puerto Rico's Gay Rights Battle Slowly Heats Up 02 MAR 13
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [AGE OF CONSENT]
1.

National

In 2005, consensual sex between same-sex couples was decriminalised [R1.3]

Previously:

In June 2003, Puerto Rico's Senate passed a new penal code which abolishes the crime of sodomy. The bill was yet to be voted on by the House [R1.2].

In 2002, Article 103 of the Puerto Rican criminal code prohibited "sexual relationships between people of the same sex or committing acts against nature with a human being" with 10 years in prison [R1.1].

The code did not distinguish consensual sexual activity.

2.

Courts & Tribunals

In June 2002, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that Article 103 was not unconstitutional [R2.1].

R1.3 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, 14 MAY 08
R1.2 365Gay.com: "Puerto Rico Moves To Abolish Sodomy Law" 24 JUN 03
R1.1 IGLHRC ERN: "Support Sodomy Law Repeal, Rape Law Reform" 30 APR 02
R2.1 The Gully: "Puerto Rico's Sodomy Law Just "Tip of the Iceberg"" 14 MAR 03
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

See also: 2. Courts & Tribunals below.

On 26 June 2013, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order following the US Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision, instructing all agencies of the executive branch to begin taking the necessary steps to comply with the Court's decision, further ordering the Department of Housing, the Department of Health and the island's demographic registry to commence the process to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses and “make any necessary adjustments to tax rules” [R1.3].

On 26 June 2013, with the striking down of Section 3 of the Defence of Marriage Act, Puerto Ricans married in one of the 13 US states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is recognized will get all federal rights on the island as well [R1.2].

On 12 June 2008, Puerto Rico's House of Representatives denied Resolution 99, a measure to toughen a ban on same-sex marriage [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 07 April 2016, following the US Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit ruling, US District Judge Gustavo A Gelpí declared unconstitutional Article 68 of the Puerto Rico Civil Code, as well as any other federal or commonwealth law that prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, or which fails to recognize any valid same-sex marriage performed in another jurisdiction [C2.17], [R2.16].

On 07 April 2016, the US Court of Appeal for the First Circuit overturned the Puerto Rico District Court finding that the US Supreme Court same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges did not necessarily apply in the territory. The Court stated unambiguously that Territory's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional [C2.15], [R2.14].

On 21 March 2016, a mandamus petition was filed with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The motion asks the federal appeals court to "make clear" that last June's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell case that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples across the country applies to Puerto Rico [R2.13].

On 08 March 2016, US District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez of the Puerto Rico District Court found in Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla, that the 26 June 2015 US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Constitution's 14th Amendment protects the right of same-sex couples to marry does not necessarily apply to Puerto Rico [C2.12], [R2.11].

On08 July 2015, Judges Juan Torruella, Ojetta Rogerlee Thompson, and William Kayatta, Jr. in the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Puerto Rico's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Same-sex marriages are expected to begin in Puerto Rico on 15 July [R2.10].

On 20 March 2015, Puerto Rico officials have filed a brief in the First Circuit Court of Appeals abandoning support for their ban on same-sex marriage and requesting the Court reverse the judgment of the District Court that dismissed the same-sex marriage ban complaint for lack of a substantial federal question [C2.9], [R2.8].

On 28 October 2014, Lambda Legal filed a Notice of Appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, formally appealing a federal judge's decision to uphold Puerto Rico's same-sex marriage ban to the US Disctrict Court [C2.7], [R2.6].

On 21 October 2014, US District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez dismissed a challenge to the ban on same-sex marriage with prejudice, saying the US Supreme Court established a binding precedent in the 1971 case of 'Baker v. Nelson', in which two men sought to marry in Minnesota [C2.5], [R2.4].

On 25 June 2014, four gay and lesbian couples, Iris Delia Rivera Rivera and Maritza López Aviles, Zulma Oliveras Vega and Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, José A. Torruellas Iglesias and Thomas J. Robinson, Johanne Vélez García and Faviola Meléndez Rodríguez together with Lambda Legal and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBT advocacy group, joined the Conde lawsuit [R2.3].

On 25 March 2014, Attorney Ada Conde filed a federal lawsuit, seeking to have her 2004 Massachusetts marriage to her partner of 14 years Ivonne Alvarez recognized. The complaint alleges the unconstitutionality of laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman, banning same-sex marriage, and preventing the recognition of such unions [C2.2], [R2.1].

R1.3 LatinPost: Puerto Rico Approves Marriage Equality Following SCOTUS Ruling 27 JUN 15
R1.2 ABC News: Pedro Julio Serrano On Status of LGBT Rights in Puerto Rico 30 JUN 13
R1.1 The Advocate: Constitutional Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage in Puerto Rico Fails 14-16 JUN 08
2. Courts & Tribunals
C2.17 Order: Ada Conde Vidal, et al. v. Alejander Garcia Padilla, et al No. CV 14-1253 (GAG) PDF 27.01kb 07 APR 16
R2.16 WashingtonBlade: Puerto Rico same-sex marriage ban again struck down 08 APR 16
C2.15 Opinion: In Re: Ada M Conde Vidal et al. v. US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico No. 16-1313P-01A PDF 30.82kb 07 APR 16
R2.14 TheNewCivilRightsMovement: Appeals Court Rules Puerto Rico Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional, Decimates Lower Court Ruling 07 APR 16
R2.13 WashingtonBlade: Lambda Legal challenges Puerto Rico marriage ruling 21 MAR 16
C2.12 Opinion and Order: Ada Conde Videl, et al. v. Alejandro Garcia-Padilla No 14-1253 (PG) PDF 102.92kb 08 MAR 16
R2.11 GayCityNews: US Judge Say SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling Does Not Apply to Puerto Rico 09 MAR 16
R2.10 TheAdvocate: Marriage Equality Victory in Puerto Rico 08 JUL 15
C2.9 Brief for Defendants-Appellees: Ada Mercedes Conde Vidal, et al. v. Dr Ana Rius Armendáriz, et al. No. 14-2184 PDF 412.18kb, 20 MAR 15
R2.8 EqualityOnTrial: Puerto Rico ends defense of same-sex marriage ban 20 MAR 15
C2.7 Plaintiff's Notice of Appeal: Ada Conde-Vidal, et al., v. Alejandro Garcia-Padilla No. 14-1253-PG PDF 230.75kb, 28 OCT 14
R2.6 WashingtonBlade: Puerto Rico marriage ruling appealed 28 OCT 14
C2.5 Opinion and Order: Ada Conde-Vidal, et al., v. Alejandro Garcia-Padilla No. 14-1253-PG PDF 971.11kb, 21 OCT 14
R2.4 TheLosAngelesTimes: Puerto Rico's gay marriage ban upheld by federal judge 21 OCT 14
R2.3 WashingtonBlade: Four same-sex couples join Puerto Rico marriage lawsuit 25 JUN 14
C2.2 Case: Ada Conde v. PR Health Secretary & Vital Records Registrar
R2.1 circa: Lawsuit seeks to end Puerto Rico's same-sex marriage ban 27 MAR 14
Parenting, Adoption, Fostering Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

On 09 December 2015, Judge Ladi Buono De Jesús in the Court of San Juan was reported to have ruled that Ángeles Judith Acosta Rodríguez, a woman whose longtime partner Carmen Milagros Vélez Vega gave birth to Juliana María Acosta Vélez through artificial insemination, be granted an adoption order [R1.4].

On 20 March 2013, Attorney General, Margarita Mercado, filed a motion in support of overturning a ban preventing same-sex couples from adopting children. A Motion of the Petitioner for Reconsideration was filed 06 March 2013 and on 08 March 2013, Lambda filed a brief in support [R1.3], [C1.2].

On 20 February 2013, the Supreme Court held 5–4 against an unidentified woman seeking to adopt a 12-year-old girl who her partner of more than 20 years had through in vitro fertilization, upholding the constitutionality of a law that states a person cannot adopt a single-parent child if the would-be adopter is of the same sex as the child's mother or father without that parent losing their legal rights [C1.2], [R1.1].

In 1976, the Supreme Court allowed a single woman to adopt the daughter of her ex-lover without him losing his biological rights [R1.1].

R1.4 abcNEWS: Puerto Rico for first time allows same-sex couple to adopt 09 DEC 15
R1.3 PinkNews: Puerto Rico Government signals support for gay adoption 20 MAR 13
C1.2 Ex Parte AAR CC-2008-1010
R1.1 abcNEWS: Puerto Rico Denies Gays Right to Adopt Children 20 FEB 13
Violence: Bullying, Domestic Violence, Harassment, Vilification Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 29 May 2013, Governor Alejandro García Padilla signed a law that extends domestic violence protections and services to gay and lesbian couples [R1.3].

On 24 May 2013, the House of Representatives passed a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity provisions to the territory's domestic violence law. It now moves to the Senate [R1.2].

In 2001, the Justice Department in Puerto Rico decided to apply domestic violence laws to same-sex couples [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 15 July 2013, Judge José Fusté found Joseph Joel Morales Serrano, 26, guilty of cyberbullying Pedro Julio Serrano and sentenced him to time served in jail (three days when he was arrested), and three years of supervised release, in addition to close his Twitter account for three years [R2.3].

In 2001, a judge found probable cause in a domestic violence matter [R2.2].


In 1999, an appeals court ruled that Puerto Rico's domestic violence law does not apply to lesbians and gay men because the sodomy statute "makes homosexual conduct a crime" [R2.1]

Quaere whether the ruling would be upheld now that consensual sex between same-sex couples has been decriminalised

R1.3 The Advocate: Puerto Rico Governor Signs Local ENDA, Domestic Violence Bills 29 MAY 13
R1.2 The Advocate: Puerto Rico House Approves Antidiscrimination Bill 24 MAY 13
R1.1 The Advocate: Puerto Rico to Apply Domestic Violence Laws to Same-sex Couples 17 APR 01
R2.3 Xtra!: Puerto Rican sentenced for threatening gay activist on Twitter 18 JUL 13
R2.2 Orlando Sentinel: Case Puts Focus on Gay Rights 14 MAY 07
R2.1 The Gully: "Puerto Rico's Sodomy Law Just 'Tip of the Iceberg'" 14 MAR 03

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