Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado

Vigils have been held across the US to protest the brutal murder of gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado in Puerto Rico.

The decapitated, dismembered and burnt body of 19 year old Mercado was found by police just over a week ago. A 26 year old man, Juan Antonio Martinez Matos, has been arrested for the murder.

Over the weekend, thousands of people took part in the vigils which were held in cities including New York and San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the teenager’s mother, Miriam Mercado, has spoken out about her son’s murder for the first time.

“When my son told me he was gay, I told him, ‘Now, I love you more.’ I want to tell the world that hatred is not born with human beings, it is a seed that is planted by adults and is fostered creating a climate of intolerance and violence. We must change our ways and understand that anyone …could have been my son. And I want everybody to know that Jorge Steven was a very much loved son.”

It is believed that Matos will use the ‘gay panic’ defence to explain his attack on Mercado. Activists have called for the suspect to be prosecuted under the new federal hate crimes law recently signed by President Obama.

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