A controversial bill by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was scrapped earlier this week after international pop star Ricky Martin wrote a very critical open letter to the chief executive of the U.S. island territory.
The legislation would have allowed government employees the right to refuse serving citizens in Puerto Rico if they felt that their actions would conflict with their religious beliefs, NBC News reported.
The governor proposed the bill by saying he would only sign it into law if it was also accompanied by a bill that would ban conversion therapy — a set of controversial techniques that purports to “cure” people of being gay.
Gay conversion bans have been passed in states and municipalities throughout the United States. Yet even this bill had its detractors in the LGBTQ community in Puerto Rico, as the proposal still allowed religious organizations the right to perform the long-debunked practice, against the will of minors, if parents consented to it.
The ‘religious liberty’ bill, coupled by the watered-down conversion therapy ban, led many to speak out against Rosselló’s push for the bills. Martin, an openly gay entertainer, was among them, penning a powerful open letter to the governor against the proposals.
“While the world calls for equality, respect for diversity and the defense of human rights, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the Governor of Puerto Rico are pushing for a measure that goes against all of the above,” Martin wrote on his website.
He added that the justification given by the governor of religious exemptions was degrading.
“I am vehemently opposed to the proposed measure imposed upon us under the guise of religious freedom, which degrades us as a society and projects us to the world as a backwards country, unwilling to honor the basic constitutional right of individuality,” he added.
As a result of pressure from Martin and others speaking out against the bill, it was effectively tabled by the governor, and will not be considered in the immediate future.
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