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Puerto Rico lawmakers approve gender, sexual orientation discrimination law

Puerto Rico's House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation in places of employment. According to media sources, the bill originally included protections for commercial transactions, housing, governmental services, and public accommodations, but the Senate voted [AP report] to narrow to bill's scope to employment last week. The bill will now move back to the Senate, which is expected to approve the measure. In addition, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla [official profile] has reportedly indicated his intent to sign the bill after its final approval. According to reports, Puerto Rico has enacted several other measures to foster equality in 2013, including an executive order which extends health insurance coverage to domestic partners of workers in the executive branch. In addition, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice [official website] is reportedly prosecuting the nation's first hate-crime case.

LGBT and gender rights have been an issue in Puerto Rico in the past. In February Puerto Rico's Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] a law banning same-sex couples from adopting children. In a 5-4 judgment, the court upheld the constitutionality of a law making it legally impossible for a person to adopt a child if the potential adopter is of the same sex as the child's legal parent. Other nations have recently sought to make strides towards equality. In July Chile enacted an anti-discrimination law [JURIST report] following the March 2012 beating death of a young gay man in a Santiago park. In June Ontario lawmakers on unanimously approved [JURIST report] an amendment to the province's Human Rights Code that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.

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