Last month, Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló issued a strong statement about his views on conversion therapy and why he had decided to ban the practice on minors in Puerto Rico, during a legislative process that did not support a ban on this therapy for minors.
What @ricardorossello said today about the #conversiontherapy debate on #PuertoRico. Maybe his fellow #PNP legalislators will learn from this. Strong words from the governor. pic.twitter.com/Qcc1krJPZf
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) March 20, 2019
This past Tuesday, during his State of the State address to Puerto Rico’s local senators and representatives, Rosselló appeared to backtrack on his March statement.
This is what Rosselló said in Spanish during that video clip: “Estoy convencido que el mecanismo del diálogo es la vía correcta en la búsqueda de las soluciones para muchos de los problemas y controversias que tenemos en nuestro Pueblo. Un ejemplo, es el consenso que ayer [lunes] logramos junto a líderes religiosos y de la comunidad LGBTT, que confío facilite la aprobación de un proyecto que prohíba las llamadas ‘terapias de conversión’, y establezca las guías para las libertades religiosas.”
Here is an English translation of what he said: “I am convinced that dialogue as a mechanism is the correct way to find solutions for many of the problems and controversies that we have in our Country. One example is the consensus we reached yesterday [Monday] with religious leaders and the LGBTQ community that I trust facilitates the approval of a bill that prohibits so-called ‘conversion therapies’ and establishes guidelines for religious liberties.”
Right after that clip, Rosselló said this in Spanish: “Son temas sobre los cuales no existirá unanimidad en nuestra sociedad, pero sobre los cuales podemos lograr soluciones que sean beneficiosas para las distintas partes, adelantando el camino sin tener que obstaculizar al otro. Podemos intentar llegar a un consenso y demostrar que el entendimiento es posible entre los puertorriqueños.”
This is the translation of what he said: “They are issues on which there will be no unanimity in our society, but on which we can achieve solutions that are beneficial for different parties, advancing the way without having to hinder the other. We can try to reach a consensus and show that understanding is possible among Puerto Ricans.”
Rosselló’s remarks happened the same week that he presented a “Religious Freedom” bill to Puerto Rico’s Senate. LGBTQ activists on the island are already condemning it, saying that it will lead to even more discrimination against their community. In addition, conversion therapy is practiced by religious groups, so anyone could essentially use religious freedom as a basis for utilizing it with minors.
There is no possible consensus to allow discrimination to LGBTT people. Human rights defenders do NOT negotiate the dignity of our people. These projects legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. @DavidBegnaud
???❤️?????#PuertoRico ?? https://t.co/mGG1K8ihWm
— Margarita (@AHappyMargarita) April 25, 2019
The Human Rights Campaign clearly states its position on conversion therapy:
So-called “conversion therapy,” sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy. Minors are especially vulnerable, and conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.
The HRC report also listed all the organizations that clearly oppose conversion therapy for minors, as more and more states and municipalities are beginning to ban this practice. As of today, 16 states and Washington, D.C., have banned conversion therapies for minors.