Entertainer Ricky Martin is speaking out against efforts by Puerto Rican politicians to eliminate legal protections for queer people in the commonwealth.
Puerto Rico’s Senate is currently considering amendments to the civil code that would prevent citizens from updating their legal gender markers, weaken nondiscrimination laws, and limit access to reproductive health services.
The changes have already passed the House of Representatives, and the Senate could vote this week.
“We must keep in mind the Senate’s motives to amend the Civil Code,” Martin tweeted last week. “Lawmakers are obsessed with provoking a setback in the fight for equality the LGBTQ community has led.”
Last year a federal judge ruled that the commonwealth’s former policy, which prevented citizens from correcting birth certificates, was unconstitutional. The proposed bill would restore the ban on correcting gender markers.
Martin has taken a particularly prominent role in advocating for progressive reform in Puerto Rico. He was highly visible during protests this year against former governor Ricardo Rosselló, who stepped down after he was caught sending homophobic and misogynistic messages to his staff.
Protecting vulnerable citizens from homophobia has become increasingly urgent in the U.S. commonwealth following Hurricane Maria in 2017. With thousands killed and services strained and unavailable, queer people have been particularly susceptible to discrimination and the loss of safe spaces to gather.
Having accurate birth certificates can ensure that trans citizens are able to access services like shelters, medical care, and employment assistance.
A coalition of human rights groups is urging the government to postpone the vote. In a letter sent to Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, the groups said that the proposed bill “contains provisions that are harmful to civil rights in the country and to the stability of our legal system.”
So far, Governor Wanda Vázquez has refused to commit to opposing the bill. “We are going to listen to everyone, we are going to evaluate these claims,” she Vázquez told el Nuevo Día. “We are going to see the final bill and at the end of the day we will make the determination.”