Panama takes a big step towards LGBT rights

Panama lawmakers are currently reviewing a bill that would make hate crimes against gays, lesbians and transsexuals illegal. The bill that is sponsored by the Association of New Men and Women of Panama,

wants perpetrators of hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity to get sentences of six months to one year in jail, and face fines of 500 to 5,000 dollars.

The bill seeks to stop physical and verbal abuse of gays, lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals and transvestites in Panama and put a stop to discrimination in the workplace.

Ricardo Beteta a spokesman for the group said, "Right now, we are legally invisible. What we want is for the Panamanian state to recognize our sexual orientation and gender identity, so we can be citizens legally speaking”. Beteta spoke to the fact that many LGBT citizens hide their orientation in the workplace, as they could face loosing their jobs.