In July was the murder of Samuel in Galicia. Just a few days ago, the attack, in the middle of the afternoon and in a neighborhood in the center of Madrid, on a young man in the doorway of his house: a group of eight hooded men cornered him, insulted him, cut his lip and marked his word “fag” on a glute. And beyond these attacks that reach the media, many other attacks that, experts and LGTBI groups recall, are constant even though they do not transcend. Spain is the scene of something that seems paradoxical: in a country that polls point to the head of LGTBI rights and integration of diversity, homophobic attacks set off alarms. The consulted voices believe, however, that more than a contradiction there is a reaction: the fight of a sector of the population, now legitimized by the discourse of the extreme right, willing to fight not to lose a social, cultural and symbolic battle that diversity and equality were winning.
The lawyer Laia Serra believes that there are several phenomena that converge and that they are not incompatible with each other. On the one hand, a more vindictive LGTBI movement in public spaces and social networks, also in administrations. “It is evident that when a movement conquers more public space there is more struggle from the traditional sectors. The same thing happens against feminism. There has never been such a present feminism and this entails more violent positions,” he explains.
On the other, he continues, there is a “cultural and political battle”, marked by the irruption of the extreme right both in parliaments and in public space. “There is a part of the population that has recognized in this political discourse a legitimacy to validate their prejudices and to take action.” This battle, which is also symbolic and of legitimacy, involves clashes, a fight that a part of society undertakes in order not to lose its space, physical, symbolic and of ideas.
“The more empowerment there is of a certain group, the social sector that is against this will fight for the speeches, for the symbolic, for the neighborhoods, for the institutes and everywhere so that this social reality is not consolidated” , believes Serra, who, however, underlines that it is not so much that homophobic violence has increased, as that attention and complaints have grown, precisely because of a more favorable social climate.
And it is that while we know brutal attacks such as this weekend in Madrid, Spain leads the advance in social rights in the form of laws and support for the group, as highlighted recently a poll made by the British firm YouGov. The study concluded, among other things, that Spain is a leader in supporting LGTBI family or friends when they decide to come out of the closet.
The study, carried out in eight developed countries, reveals great differences between people’s attitudes towards the collective. Among those selected for the survey (Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, USA and France), Spain is the country with the highest proportion of people who identify as LGTBI, reaching 10%. Our country is also at the forefront when it comes to providing support when a member of your family comes out of the closet, according to the same data, with 95%. It is followed by the United Kingdom with 85%, Italy with 82%, Denmark with 80% and Sweden with 77%. At the bottom, France with 57%, and the US with 66%.
78% of the Spaniards surveyed indicated that they would “support a lot” a close member of their family if he declared himself to be trans or non-binary. However, this data plummets in the rest of the countries: in Italy it reaches 55%, in the UK 52%, in Sweden 51%, in Denmark 49%, in Germany 42%, in the US 41 % and in France only 18%. The President of the Government himself, Pedro Sánchez, highlighted these results in an interview in The country this weekend. The Government announced this Tuesday that Sánchez will preside over the Monitoring Commission of the Action Plan to Fight Hate Crimes that has been convened for Friday.
The actual General Director of Sexual Diversity and LGTBI Rights from the Ministry of Equality, Boti García Rodrigo, does not think that there is a contradiction in Spanish society either. “It is respectful of sexual, gender and family diversity, says numerous investigations, both at a European and internal level. Spain has evolved in a very short time from illegality and persecution to being at the forefront in, for example, the equalization of law marriage. And it is evident that this evolution has been made with strong social support. But many of these studies also show us that there remains a minority sector within society, which responds to the profile of a young man, who not only does not accept or he respects sexual diversity, but is very virulent, he feels enormously attacked by this diversity and responds aggressively, “he explains.
The historic activist is also of the opinion that this minority, which years ago had been more silenced, once again feels “protected, emboldened, even tense” by the presence of a “hate speech” in the institutions, in political parties, and even in social networks that, he says, have become “minefield” for sexual minorities.
García Rodrigo underlines the importance that the Law for Real and Effective Equality of Trans People and for the Guarantee of the Rights of LGTBI People, which the Council of Ministers approved in June for subsequent processing, comes out “as soon as possible and as complete as possible “, but points out other challenges, such as” implementing regional laws. ” “We must be rigorous with the discourses that feed these incidents of hate, we must stop complicity with the parties that encourage these discourses. We must make an effort in education. We continue to have a system that does not contemplate sex-affective education, the young people continue to form in masculinities that are built from misogyny and homophobia “.
The journalist Rubén Serrano, author of the book We are not so good (Ed. Issues of Today), is very critical of the YouGov survey data, which he describes as cheating. “It is data of perception of how heterosexual people would behave. One thing is your perception and what you would like to do and another thing is what LGTBI people live day by day. There are these great data of acceptance of LGTBI people in the houses, but from day to day we still feel afraid to tell parents. And they are not specific cases. It is all an LGTBIphobic and hateful structure that we have been dragging in Spain, not for years, but centuries ago ” , He says.
This Monday, the State Attorney General, Dolores Delgado, warned of the increase in hate crimes through social networks and pointed out that sexual orientation is now the most frequent reason, followed by racism and xenophobia, when presenting the memory of the institution in 2020.
Hate crimes in Spain are increasing, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior. In the last seven years these crimes have grown by 9%. In 2014, 1,285 were registered, while in 2020 they reached 1,401. It must be borne in mind that the latest available data is conditioned by the pandemic. If 2019 is compared to 2014, the increase is 33%. According to the same source, specific crimes based on sexual orientation also continue to rise. Even with confinement involved, almost the same number of crimes were recorded in 2020 (282) as in 2019 (283).
“It is true that now the attacks on LGTBI people are more visible, first because they are harder and second because we denounce them more, but this does not mean that there were no LGTBI attacks in 2008 or 2009”, points out Rubén Serrano.
“In Spain there has been great progress in legislation and in support for education in sexual affective diversity, something that in some areas of the far right do not see appropriate. Faced with more exposure and visibility, and with the validation of hate speech that rejects these advances, the feeling of impunity grows for committing this type of acts against the group, “explains Khadija Afkir el Majrissi, a social worker at Kifkif, an organization for the defense and representation of LGTBI migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Spain.
From the organizations, he affirms, they are trying to accompany those who suffer attacks and make visible the possibility of reporting. In addition to demanding a swift and forceful action by justice to clarify what happened in this latest attack, the organization warns that it will take to the streets to protest and continue to occupy a public space that also belongs to them. “The public space is also ours and we are not going to leave it. We are not going to make ourselves invisible or let them make us invisible.”