(December 7, 2018 – La Fortaleza, San Juan). In order to establish standards for the strengthening of respect, adequate interaction and non-discrimination of people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersexual and asexual community (LGBTTQIA) in correctional institutions, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) signed an administrative order to mark a collaborative effort with the Governor’s LGBTT Advisory Council.
The order seeks to strengthen the recognition of rights for the LGBTTQIA community within the prisons of Puerto Rico and thus encourage more spaces of tolerance and respect for the dignity of every human being.
The Secretary of Corrections, Erik Rolón Suárez, said that “we recognize the public policy of our governor that all human beings have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Rolón Suárez added that, “with this administrative order we guarantee that all the personnel of the Department, like our contractors, will treat members of the LGBTTQIA community with the respect they merit. We are taking an important step and will continue working to identify additional steps we can take so we can guarantee a dignified treatment for all.”
The administrative order follows federal regulations requiring that every employee and contractor of the Department is trained in matters related to sensitivity, interaction and respect with members of the LGBTTQIA community.
In addition, under the new guidelines, every trans person requesting a gender change in their birth certificate through the Demographic Registry will be assisted by their social services technician to carry out this procedure.
Disciplinary measures have also been established for any employee or contractor of the Department who does not comply with the new provisions.
The Chair of the Advisory Board, Johanne Velez, said that “we live in a historical moment where transcendental changes are taking place in our society and we must move along with them in order to promote inclusive environments of respect and tolerance for all people”.
Velez also indicated that “Governor Rosselló Nevares has been emphatic in his commitment to promote a government free of discrimination and, through this order, we promote that commitment.”
This administrative order reiterates the policy adopted by the present administration of zero tolerance for discrimination. The order also updates management, operational and administrative procedures so that persons employed or contracted by the Department of Corrections, in their interaction with people from the LGBTTQIA community, are attentive to the promotion of safety, respect, proper treatment, dignity, and physical and emotional integrity.
This initiative intends to temper elevate standards and good practices within the work environment, when interacting with members of the LGBTTQIA community.
The executive director of the Council, Alberto J. Valentín, said “we are all human beings and, as such, we must receive a fair and equitable treatment, especially by our public servants, who are the face of our government”.
Valentín concluded by stating that “our correctional population is a very diverse one and through this order we ensure that those members of the LGBTTQIA community within the prisons have the necessary mechanisms to present complaints of discrimination or mistreatment by any employee of the Department. of Correction, because of their sexual orientation, identity or appearance of gender”