Update: The 20-year-old man who claimed he was attacked at knifepoint before being carved a homophobic slur in his buttocks has admitted to having made up the story. The man in question has revealed that the carving was done during a sado-masochistic sex session with two of his lovers and lied to cover up his infidelity towards his boyfriend.
After the gruesome killing of 24-year-old Samuel Luiz last July in the northwestern region of Galicia, SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) crimes have been on the rise. Most recently, an unnamed 20-year-old Spanish man from the country's capital city was held at knife-point before having been carved the Spanish equivalent of f**got on his buttocks.
Influx of SOGI crimes
As was the case following the tragic death of Luiz, the country's collective LGBTQ+ community and its allies have responded in uproar to the influx of crimes against gay and trans people. Vigils were held, marches and demonstrations have been forming throughout the country and now Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, will be chairing an urgent meeting addressing the latest assault.
On an international level, politicians and celebrities have voiced their support for the community's fight against injustice and discrimination. This has since raised awareness of the dangers of anti-gay rhetoric coming from Spain's far-right, which has recently gained significant momentum for the first time since dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975.
Politically motivated intolerance
Government data reports that 278 SOGI centred hate-crimes were recorded in Spain in 2019—an 8.6% rise from the year before. However, LGBTQ+ rights groups suspect the figure to be much higher, as many incidents are never reported. Marc Serra, a councillor from Barcelona, explained that this worrying increase in anti-gay and trans crimes is a direct effect of the political 'normalisation of intolerant discourses' largely advanced by Spain's Vox party. He said:
Many of the attacks we’re seeing now are in groups and in this case they’re more violent. Citizens end up feeling scot-free and committing attacks in broad daylight and even in front of witnesses.
This comes after Spain was, for a long time, widely recognized for being one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world, far surpassing tolerance exhibited towards queer people in the US, France and the UK. In 2005, the Mediterranean country was the third in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
But now, with the increasing popularity of Spain's far right movement—known for being anti-Muslim, nationalist, anti-feminist and Eurosceptic—the country has become one of the most dangerous for LGBTQ+ folks.
Prime Minister Sanchez has pledged that the government would stop at nothing to utilize 'every legal instrument available' to fight back against all forms of intolerance. In a statement on Twitter, the politician said:
Hate crimes require the strongest social and political reproach. [There is] no place for hatred.
The PM also promised to work towards making Spain 'an open and diverse country, where no one is afraid to be who they are.'