By Juan Carlos Vega, Guest Blogger
Reporting from 2010 National Coalition for LGBT Health Meeting
On September 15, 2010, the H.R. 6109-Health Data Collection Improvement Act was introduced to mandate gender identity and sexual orientation data collection. Champed by U.S. House of Representative, Honorable Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, the legislation passed the subcommittee, but its chances on the legislative floor may not be as successful. How does this reflect on Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress? Federal law mandates over local Puerto Rican law but there is a deep gap when it comes to implementation. This is now the case of the recently passed legislation (Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act) that mandates the investigation of hate crimes. The reality in Puerto Rico is that neither the Puerto Rico Police Department nor the Department of Justice is enforcing the hate crime law locally. Only a few local advocates and lawyers are pushing for investigation on over twelve murders and acts of violence against LGBT individuals in Puerto Rico in the last year. Will the Puerto Rican Department of Health follow the same lines of other government agencies?