The murder of Samuel, the 24-year-old who lost his life in A Coruña a few hours after the state LGTBI Pride celebration after receiving a brutal beating, has unleashed a wave of indignation and shock in the LGTBI community. The investigation is open and after the publication of the testimony of witnesses who report that he was threatened with homophobic insults – “Stop recording us if you don’t want me to kill you, fag!” -, the Government delegation has opened up to the possibility that deal with a discriminatory crime. The case has focused on the violence that the LGTBI community continues to receive despite the progress of recent decades, and that has one of its reflections, the most visible, in the multiple complaints of aggressions for this reason accumulated in recent weeks .
The friend who accompanied Samuel: “The aggressor told him ‘stop recording us if you don’t want him to kill you, you fagot”
This same weekend a trans woman has denounced having been subjected to verbal and physical violence in Santiago de Compostela and a young man in Madrid has said that a policeman gave her a slap and homophobic insults. He joins the attack perpetrated in Valencia against a young man who was punched and beaten all over his body shouting “fags” or attacking a couple of men with an extendable baton in A Coruña. In Catalonia, there are several attacks reported in the last month, while Basauri (Bizkaia) made headlines at the beginning of June for the attack on a young man who ended up in the hospital whom they called a “shitty fagot.”
The monitoring carried out annually by the observatories against LGTBIphobia in various communities suggest that this type of incident grows every year, but it must be taken into account that it is about the complaints made by the affected themselves. The data available for 2020, with the peculiarities of the pandemic, point to conflicting conclusions: some such as Madrid, where 259 discriminatory acts were recorded, registered a decrease compared to 2019, while others such as the Valencian Community or Catalonia have detected a climbing (140 and 189 respectively).
However, LGTBIphobic discrimination is not something new or an isolated event, it is a “structural” violence that occurs by the fact “of being and showing ourselves as we are”, explains Eugeni Rodríguez, president of the Observatori Contra l’Homofòbia de Catalonia. In his case, the statistics that have already been compiled in this first quarter continue to point to an increase, but beyond the figures Rodríguez conveys his concern about “the aggressiveness and unusual violence that we are seeing.” Ignacio Paredero, Secretary of Organization of the State Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Trans and Bisexuals (FELGTB) also agrees on this: “We must be cautious, at the moment we cannot speak of an increase, but we do perceive more intense cases every time and a aggressiveness that has grown over time. ”
At Olympe Abogados, a law firm specialized in this type of cases, they receive more and more complaints: “We see that crimes that were not carried out so regularly for a long time reappear frequently,” explains its legal director Isaac Guijarro. Even so, experts warn that what comes to light is “the tip of the iceberg” because most of this violence is silenced: according to a recent macro-survey by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, only 16% of the victims in Spain of any physical or sexual attack due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, they transferred it. There are, Guijarro explains, “many causes”: from the exposure of privacy and forced coming out of the closet, to shame or lack of trust in institutions. “We have had many clients who even at the police stations have told them that ‘this is not going to come to anything,” says the lawyer.
Cases that are “a social reminder”
The difficulty faced by lawyers and experts in these cases is that they rarely have a history as hate crimes. “It is frequent that the context is used to deny a priori that there is a discriminatory attack. A case of LGTBIphobia ‘laboratory’ is waiting, that of an aggressor with a shaved head and braces, but it never arrives and thus nothing is a crime Homophobic insults are one more element and are key, but the context, the response and the virulence is where the discriminatory motive is, “explains Laia Serra, criminal lawyer expert in human rights and discrimination.
At first, the police reports in Samuel’s case circumscribed the incident to a discussion related to the use of a mobile phone without pointing to any other element. According to the account of the friend who accompanied him, both would be making a video call with her girlfriend when a couple snapped: “Stop recording us if you don’t want me to kill you, fag.” The only thing the 24-year-old had time to say was “queer of what.” “One day he spills the beer, another a neighborhood conflict, another crossing a traffic light or having parked badly … You have to understand this. Just because there is disproportionate violence resulting in death, it is a sufficient indication powerful enough for the discriminatory motive to be investigated. Denying it from the outset is a legal aberration and a lack of respect, “continues Serra.
Guijarro agrees with her, who also has experience in which justice rejects the discriminatory motivation in their causes. “They seem to have to say ‘I’m killing you for a fagot and not for something else,'” he says. The lawyer considers that, on the contrary, most LGTBIphobic attacks occur through the “instrumentalization” of something other than the person himself; a conflict, a misunderstanding, an excuse to attack. The experts also point to the collective nature of these acts. They are, in the words of Serra, “crimes of power” that send a message in this case to the entire LGTBI community: “It is a social reminder, certain people are told that they do not have a secure place in this society, which breaks the expectation of safety of this group, a first step against their fundamental rights “.
Everyday discrimination beyond assaults
The figures and headlines are also the “tip of the iceberg” for another reason: as with sexist violence, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia have their most brutal expression in physical attacks, but there are other daily violence that sustains them. In fact, these days as a result of Samuel’s murder, many users on social networks have shared stories of discrimination. Some of the cases included in the last state-level report prepared by the FELGTB ranged from a man who when opening his business found a “fagot” painted on the facade, a lifeguard who publicly rebuked a swimming club client for to reveal that he was gay or a store clerk who snapped at a trans woman by trying on a dress that “by law it is forbidden for a man to dress as a woman.”
“Many people suffer isolation, homophobic interpellations, transphobia, stigma, problems at work or in coexistence. And all of these are signs of a structural violence that always exists; what changes are the contexts and the possibility of reporting and making themselves visible”, Rodríguez points out. Fear, violence and secrecy, even in those countries that enjoy progress, such as Spain, are still too common. The 2020 European survey reveals some revealing data: 48% of people avoid shaking hands in public with someone of the same sex and one in three (32%) say they stop going “always” or “often “to some places out of fear.
When asked where they refuse to show themselves as they are for fear of being “assaulted, harassed or threatened”, almost half of those surveyed in Spain (47%) say that in the street or another type of public space and four out of ten in the means of transport. Taking into account that it is a question with multiple answers, 32% indicate restaurants, cafes or discos and 27%, the workplace. But the fear of becoming visible as LGTBI in the closest circles is also present: in the family or at home it is marked by 24% and 12%, respectively.
All the voices consulted for this report agree that the anti-rights offensive carried out by ultraconservative sectors and far-right parties such as Vox – which has come to publicly support the homophobic laws of Ukraine – are “an ideal breeding ground” for the rise of the violence towards vulnerable groups, explains Laia Serra, criminal lawyer expert in human rights and discrimination. “These violence occur because the aggressors feel legitimized to do so; they understand that the social response, from their close circles, but also at the community level, are not going to disapprove them or at least not with much force,” says the expert.
Paredero agrees with her, highlighting “hate speech that has been spreading for a long time” and that “sooner or later always have consequences.” The FELGB Organization Secretary regrets that from the extreme right “the framework that is placed on diversity” is linked “to the fact that the LGTBI group is a threat, or that when it comes to sexual diversity it is equated with the corruption of minors or pedophilia “. Something that, he says, “socially produces an effect.”