Puerto Rico: Gay Teen Brutally Murdered

On November 14, 2009 the body of 19-year-old Jorge Steven López Mercado, a well know member of the gay community of Puerto Rico was found on the site of an isolated road in the city of Cayey, Puerto Rico. He was brutally murdered, partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered. A suspect is currently in custody of the police. Despite the magnitude of this crime, the police agent handling the case, Rodríguez Colón, said in a publicly televised statement that, "people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen." The police superintendent dismissed Colón's statements, saying that any of his officers "can make homophobic expressions." The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently monitoring the investigation of the crime because of the potential that it would fall under federal hate crime statutes, which were expanded by the Matthew Shepard Act, signed into law in October, to include the victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) condemns both this horrific crime and the homophobic statements by the police representatives, which normalize lethal violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Puerto Rico.