LCOA denounces the horrific murder of gay and trans Puerto Rican teenager, Jorge Steven López Mercado.

November 19, 2009 – New York City, NY – The Latino Commission on AIDS, a leader on HIV/AIDS and health related issues across the United States and its territories denounces the horrific murder of gay and trans Puerto Rican teenager, Jorge Steven López Mercado.

“We strongly condemn this brutal crime and urge the federal government to provide Puerto Rican authorities with assistance in this investigation. We cannot stand by and allow any more violence that targets any individual because of their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation or gender identity. The individuals responsible for killing Jorge must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of our new federal hate crimes laws,” stated Guillermo Chacon, President, Latino Commission on AIDS. “We call on the Governor of Puerto Rico, Honorable Luis Fortuño to make a public statement condemning this horrible crime”

“Homophobia and transphobia increases the isolation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and represents a real threat to public heath. Homophobia and transphobia should never be tolerated and the Latino Commission on AIDS condemns any and all violence against any sexual minority group,” stated Oscar Lopez, Director of Health Policy at the Latino Commission on AIDS. “This hatred and fear based on sexual orientation does not just affect the mental and physical health of the LGBT community, but also affect the health and well being of all Americans and it needs to be stopped.”

Your help is urgently needed to stem the wave of domestic and international violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people.

By taking just one or two of the actions listed below, you can take a stand for justice and help to protect the safety and lives of LGBT people.

Action #1
Join the Latino Commission on AIDS and its partners in supporting the Vigil, Memorial Service & Community Mobilization in memory of Jorge Steven López Mercado on Sunday, November 22nd at 5:00 pm at Pier 45 (corner of Christopher St. & West Side Highway) followed by a memorial service at the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields (487 Hudson St., By Christopher St). For more information contact: (212) 675-3288

Action #2
Write or call the Governor of Puerto Rico, Honorable Luis G. Fortuño and encourage him to make a public statement condemning this violence and ensure that local law enforcement fully investigate the possibility that the individual(s) responsible for this crime be charged with committing a hate-crime.
E-Mail: ecruz@fortaleza.gobierno.pr – Phone: (787)721-7000

Action #3
Join our faith based communities and make a commitment to pray for members of the LGBT community around the world who continue to face ongoing threats to their freedom, safety, health and well-being for no other reason than their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Pray for blessing and protection upon their lives, that they may find strength and hope in the midst of adversity, and that governments everywhere will treat their citizens with fairness, justice and compassion.

Action #4
If you are responsible for raising or mentoring children, be sure to lead by example. Telling is good, but showing is better. In order for your child to be comfortable around members of the LGBT community, you have to be comfortable around them as well. It is important that we to accept one another.

Action #5
The sexual and gender identity of Jorge and many LGBTQ teens is complex and should be celebrated and supported. Jorge needed, and other teens in Puerto Rico still need, support and guidance as they grow to adulthood. Please support the healthy development of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people.

Action#6
If you are Latino, please be aware that many members of our community struggle with homophobia along with machismo and sexism. We must stop homophobic, transphobic and sexist comments, jokes and behaviors at all times. A joke may seem harmless but it may impact a person’s self esteem and create a community of intolerance, which may lead to violence.

ABOUT THE LATINO COMMISSION ON AIDS
The Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA) is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Latino/Hispanic communities. The Commission is the leading national Latino AIDS organization coordinating National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and other prevention and advocacy programs in more than 40 States and Puerto Rico. The Commission raises funds through its Cielo Latino annual fundraiser. For more information visit: www.latinoaids.org or www.nlaad.org.
UNIDOS PODEMOS / UNITED WE CAN

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