The Puerto Rican newspaper El Vocero recently reported that around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night, several individuals dressed in black lobbed “several Molotov cocktails” at the Circo Bar, one of Puerto Rico’s most popular gay bars located in the capital of San Juan. The incendiary devices reportedly caused no damage to the club or harm to any patrons.
Local police have made no arrests and and do not know the motive behind the attack. No one has claimed any responsibility. They have assigned the case to the Division of Crimes Against Property and Explosives Division and Public Safety.
This attack on Circo Bar comes a month and a half after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane that has left many parts of the island without electricity and drinkable water. The island’s LGBTQ center started an online fundraiser to “help those least likely to receive assistance from post-storm recovery efforts — the LGBTQ community.”
Although the island nation has had hate crime protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity since 2004, it has no public accommodation laws protecting LGBTQ people. Furthermore, the island still allows psychologically harmful so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy against suspected LGBTQ people and has no standard for LGBTQ anti-bullying protections in its schools and colleges.
More than 30 LGBTQ people were murdered in Puerto Rico in the nearly five year span from November 2009 to January 2013. In November 2009, police discovered gay teenager Jorge Steven López Mercado’s “decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body alongside a remote roadside,” a grisly murder that eventually led the island to strengthen its hate crimes investigations.
In an interview with The Washington Blade, Puerto Rican LGBTQ activist Pedro Julio Serrano said, “The only way to curb anti-LGBT violence in Puerto Rico is we finally prosecute these as hate crimes and people understand the motivation behind them was anti-LGBT.”
Featured image via GayCities