Spanish equality minister faces searing backlash after suggesting LGBT+ discrimination is a working class problem

Irene Montero giving a press conference

The Spanish minister of equality Irene Montero faced criticism online after suggesting that gay and trans people face homophobia from working class people.

Montero, who has served as equality minister for Spain since January 2020, tweeted: “Of course, there are LGBT+ people in working class neighbourhoods. What happens is they do not rent them an apartment because they are lesbians

“They get beaten up for being trans, they make fun of them at school or at work. Is there anyone who thinks that LGBTI rights are ‘symbolic’ and not material?”

Her tweet was accompanied by a clip from Pride, a 2014 British historical comedy-drama. Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raise money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984. The film stars Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Joe Gilgun and Imelda Staunton.

Montero’s comments quickly drew criticism. Valentín García, a finalist on Spain’s Masterchef, tweeted: “Do you realise that you criminalise working class neighbourhoods and that many homosexuals are fed up that you use them for it?”

Another person questioned if Montero thought that LGBT+ discrimination didn’t happen in more affluent neighbourhoods. They wrote: “This … is it insinuating that discrimination against LGB people [only] occurs in working class neighbourhoods? Do you mean that in rich neighbourhoods that doesn’t happen?”

But Montero did have some support. One person wrote on Twitter: “And not only that. LGTBI people have structural economic inequality because they suffer labour discrimination (wage gap) because they suffer more homelessness because they have less access to higher education… LGBTI inequality is not only discrimination, it is also economic.”

Earlier in the week, Montero began meetings with the first vice president of the Spanish government, Carmen Calvo, to introduce new trans and LGBT+ laws. The first meeting took place on Monday (25 January) to discuss proposals which will “guarantee the LGBTI and trans peoples’ rights”.

The pair will be discussing two new bills which are geared to promote the rights of LGBT+ people across Spain. 

Under one bill, trans people will be able to register their sex as the gender they identify without requiring a medical document or treatment. The LGBT+ law will focus on preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sexual characteristics.