The Movement Advancement Project, in partnership with Lambda Legal, released yesterday a new report focused on the status of LGBT equality for the more than 3.5 million residents of American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
MAP classifies various laws and policies that impact lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people into two broad categories: sexual orientation-related laws and policies, and gender identity-related laws and policies. Examined together, these polices are combined to calculate an “Overall Policy Tally.”
Of the five territories, Puerto Rico has the highest overall LGBT policy tally (21.75 out of a potential 40.5) as well as the highest sexual orientation policy tally (11.5/20) and gender identity policy tally (10.25/20.5). Based on its LGBT-related laws and policies, Puerto Rico has a similar overall LGBT policy tally as Delaware and Maine.
The Northern Mariana Islands is ranked with Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa as having a “low” LGBT policy tally. American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands fall between North Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina (0.5/40.5), while the U.S. Virgin Islands (5.5/40.5) falls between Arizona and Kentucky. Guam (7/40.5) falls between Kentucky and Indiana.
Guam has a “medium” sexual orientation policy tally identical to that of Pennsylvania and Michigan, while the other three territories have “low” sexual orientation policy tallies. Notably, both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have “negative” gender identity policy tallies similar to Arizona and Alabama, respectively. American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands have “low” gender identity policy tallies.
In addition, report looks at seven broad categories including relationship and parental recognition, non-discrimination laws, LGBT youth laws and policies, healthcare laws and policies, criminal justice laws, and accurate identity documents. Within these categories, the report reviews the more than 39 laws and policies that impact LGBT people and their families. Key findings include:
• Guam has the highest relationship recognition policy tally of the five territories because of their family and medical leave law that permits leave for a child for whom a parent is standing in loco parentis.
• Both Puerto Rico and Guam have nondiscrimination protections in employment for sexual orientation and gender identity. Puerto Rico also has advanced healthcare nondiscrimination laws and policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status.
Earlier this year, the governor of Puerto Rico signed an executive order banning conversion therapy by licensed medical professionals. Puerto Rico also has a “Students’ Bill of Rights” that ensures equal access to education regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
• Both Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands have hate crime laws that enumerate sexual orientation and gender identity. All five territories are covered by the federal hate crime law, which explicitly enumerates sexual orientation and gender identity. Notably, however, both Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have harmful HIV criminalization statutes.
• Only Puerto Rico has taken proactive steps to update policies and procedures for allowing transgender people to update identity documents.
For more than 10 years, MAP has tracked state-level LGBT laws and policies across the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
With the release of this report, called, “LGBT Policy Spotlight: LGBT Equality in the U.S. Territories,” MAP is now actively tracking LGBT-related laws and policies in the five populated U.S. territories.
The Equality Maps can be found at http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps. (Saipan Tribune/From a press release)