Madrid unites in protest against terrifying spike in anti-LGBT+ hate crime

People hold placards and rainbow flags up high in Madrid

Hundreds of people packed the streets of Madrid, Spain, this weekend to unite against the alarming uptick in anti-LGBT+ hate crimes.

Earlier this month, an alleged attack in the Malasaña neighbourhood against a gay man who had the word “f****t” carved on his buttocks enraged and repulsed Spain.

The victim later retracted his police statement and claimed his injuries were consensual, however activists were keen to underline that the lie did not detract from the spiralling number of hate crimes against LGBT+ Spaniards.

This was the message shouted loudly when LGBT+ campaigners crammed into Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s most famous central square, to call for basic protections on Saturday (11 September) evening.

People waved and wore rainbow flags while carrying banners and placards readings: “Justice”, “Touch one of us, touch us all” and “We are being killed”. Some taped the word “justice” to their heads, while many spoke of Samuel Luiz, a gay nursing assistant beaten to death by a violent mob in July.

“Samuel was killed for being gay”, some shouted. “We are not afraid – and we are angry,” others chanted.

Protesters carrying placards and flags

Protesters carrying placards and flags. (Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“We are here to protect against the continuous homophobic attacks and the constant aggression that happens weekend after weekend,” one protester told Reuters.

Forty-one per cent of queer Spaniards have experienced harassment in the last 12 months, per a 2020 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

This year alone, in a country that once prided itself on its progressive image, LGBT+ people have had their jaws smashed with hammers and have been beaten and robbed by homophobes.

Government ministers have warned that the upswing in violence is down, in part, to a rise in radical groups who target those who are “different” – LGBT+ people included.

The demonstration that roared into the night was first called for by the Colectivo LGBT+ de Madrid, otherwise known as COGAM and one of Spain’s most high-decibel LGBT+ advocacy groups.

It saw dozens of other queer and human rights organisations join in a kaleidoscopic display of solidarity.

“Against aggression, to live without fear,” the group’s banner read, according to Then24.

“They keep attacking us,” a member of COGAM told the outlet. “The escalation of violence against LGBT+ people makes us live in fear.”