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Suspect in Puerto Rico gay murder will stand trial

PinkNews Staff Writer January 14, 2010

The man accused of murdering a gay Puerto Rico teenager has been found fit to stand trial.

Juan A Martinez Matos, 26, is accused of killing Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado in November in the city of Cayey.

Edge New York reports that territorial psychologist Rafael Cabrera reported his findings to Judge Miriam Camila Justino during a hearing in Caguas yesterday.

It is alleged that Matos killed the cross-dressing teenager when he discovered he was a man.

Mercado’s body was found burnt and dismembered at a roadside.

Gay rights activists in the country hope that Matos will be tried under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which offers federal protection against hate crimes motivated by homophobia and transphobia.

The law was signed by President Barack Obama in October.

Puerto Rico governor Luis Fortuño has drawn anger from gay campaigners for not publicly mentioning the case.

Instead, he has reportedly suggested that the US territory’s constitution should be amended to bar gay couples from ever accessing equal marriage rights.

According to the Puerto Rico Sun, he made the remarks to a meeting of religious leaders.

Puerto Rico does not currently allow gay marriage or civil unions but a constitutional amendment would prevent future administrations granting rights to gays.

More: Americas, Barack Obama, Cayey, Gay, gay puerto rico, gay rights activists, James Byrd Jr, Jorge Steven Lopez, Juan A Martinez, Judge Miriam Camila, Justino, Luis Fortuño, man, marriage, Matos, Matthew Shepard, Mercado, New York, Puerto Rico, puerto rico governor, Rafael Cabrera, teenager

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