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GLAAD Calls on Obama and the Media to Address Puerto Rico Murders

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Last week, we called on the media to take note of the recent tragic killings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Puerto Ricans. Today we and others are calling on President Barack Obama to do the same.

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of the LGBT advocacy group Puerto Rico for Everyone and communications manager for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said Thursday, "It seems they have declared open hunting season against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people." Making matters worse, authorities, it seems, have not been treating or investigating these killings as hate crimes.

According to The Associated Press, the most recent victim, Karlota Gomez, was shot to death last Tuesday by someone driving by her on the street. No one has been arrested.

In late April, another transgender woman, Francheska Gonzalez, was severely beaten by a man while leaving a gas station in the suburb of Rio Piedras.   Thankfully, she lived.

Late last year, two young transgender women were shot in the head and apparently run over by a car in the southern city of Juana Diaz. Also last year, the naked and battered body of a transgender woman, Ashley Santiago, was found in her home in the northern town of Corozal.

In a November 2009 case that sparked vigils in New York and Chicago, teenager Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found decapitated and partially burned in Cayey. Andrés Duque at Blabbeando and Mike Lavers at Edge have been following the wave of anti-LGBT crimes since that month. But more voices are needed.

President Obama has a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the climate of fear that Puerto Rico's LGBT community has been forced to live in over the past 18 months. He is in Puerto Rico right now and will be holding several press events throughout the day. We hope he takes a moment or two to offer his support to Puerto Rico's LGBT community.