Human Rights Campaign Condemns Brutal Slaying of Gay Teen in Puerto Rico

“Prejudice and hate are the true motivations,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON –The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today condemned the brutal murder of Jorge Steven López, 19, in Cayey, Puerto Rico. López’s body was discovered on an isolated road, dismembered and burned, last Friday. Late Monday night, police arrested Juan A. Martinez in connection with the crime. Puerto Rican media outlets report Martinez confessed to killing López after discovering his female gender presentation did not match his male sex, and that Martínez plans to use a “gay panic/trans panic” defense in court.

“We are all grieving the loss of Jorge López,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Juan Martinez apparently believes Jorge’s sexual orientation and gender expression justify this horrific crime. It’s clear, however, that prejudice and hate are the true motivations. HRC stands in solidarity with Jorge López’s family and friends, our sister advocacy organizations, and the LGBT community in Puerto Rico and throughout America in calling for a full and thorough investigation of his murder as a hate crime under appropriate Commonwealth and Federal hate crimes laws.”

Puerto Rico added sexual orientation to its hate crimes law in 2002. Additionally, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law by President Obama last month, added sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal statutes and could be invoked to provide local authorities with additional resources to investigate and prosecute the case. HRC has been in contact with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division since news of López’s murder became public.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.