• The Star Staff

Governor reaffirms his opposition to conversion therapies

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia reaffirmed on Monday his rejection of any legislative measure that promotes conversion therapies in Puerto Rico.

“Based on all the information and more, including the language of our own Constitution, I am against conversion therapies,” the governor said in response to questions from the press.

“Of course, I will have to see what happens in the legislative process and if a measure comes to my office,” he added, “well, yes, I am advancing something that is public knowledge, that I am against carrying out conversion therapies in Puerto Rico.”

Health Secretary-designate Carlos Mellado López reacted by stating that “my answer is that everything that is detrimental to the physical and mental health of any human being, the Department of Health has to be against.”

Activist Pedro Julio Serrano thanked the governor and Mellado López in a written statement for supporting the prohibition of conversion therapies in Puerto Rico.

“We must be grateful for the position of both the Governor and the Secretary of Health,” Serrano said. “Without hesitation, Pierluisi said today that he is ‘against conversion therapies.’

For his part, Dr. Mellado indicated that the so-called reparative therapies are ‘to the detriment of the physical and mental health of any human being.’ For that same reason, they have to be prohibited in Puerto Rico, so that no child or young person is subjected to this torture.”

He noted that Senate Bill 184, which would prohibit such practices, is before the island Legislature for consideration.

“Mr. Governor, we call on you, as president of your party, to call on the NPP [New Progressive Party] legislators to vote in favor of Senate Bill 184,” Serrano said. “It is time to [take] action where it [matters]. It is time to end this child abuse in Puerto Rico. It is time to end this torture.”

The Committee on Community Initiatives, Mental Health and Addiction – chaired by independent Sen. José A. “Chaco” Vargas Vidot – will evaluate Senate Bill 184, which seeks to prohibit conversion therapies. In addition to the independent senator, the measure is co-authored by Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago Negrón of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, Ana Irma Rivera Lassén and Rafael Bernabe Riefkohl of the Citizen Victory Movement, and Javier Aponte Dalmau of the Popular Democratic Party.

There will be two days of public hearings on the measure. They will take place on Wednesday, March 24 and Friday, March 26, starting at 9 a.m., in the Leopoldo Figueroa Carreras Room on the first floor of the Capitol.