Barcelona unveiled the first monument to repressed gay and lesbian people

The monument was unveiled after a controversy that provoked a location change; catholic organisations did not want it in the surroundings of the Sagrada Família Basilica. The monument honours the victims of the sexual orientation discrimination: lesbian, gay, and transsexual people.

CNA / F. Javier Rodríguez Baena / Pere Francesch

April 4, 2011 11:38 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- “Barcelona will never forget the victims of discrimination”, said Mayor Hereu. The Barcelona City Hall has recently unveiled a monument in memory of gay, lesbian, and transsexual victims of persecution and repression. After the controversy about its possible location in the surroundings of the Sagrada Família Basilica, the monument has been finally located in the Ciutadella Park, next to the Marquès de l’Argentera Avenue entrance. The monument is a triangle on the ground, made from pink marble. At the inauguration ceremony, Barcelona Mayor Jordi Hereu said that “Barcelona says [with this monument] it will never forget the victims of discrimination”. He also stated that “there is still a long way to go to reach genuine equality.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGTB) organisations have been demanding such a monument for a long time. The figure is a triangular shape measuring over 4 metres high, made from pink marble. The stone inscription reads: “En memòria dels gais, lesbianes, i les persones transexuals que han patit persecució i repressió al llarg de la història” (“In memory of all the gay, lesbian and transsexual people that have suffered persecution and repression throughout history”). Bisexual people were not included in the inscription. The triangular shape, as Hereu explained, persists as a symbol of persecution since it was first used during the Second World War in the Nazi concentration camps.

Hereu emphasised that those honoured by the monument will never be forgotten. “We will never forget those people who fought so we can enjoy our rights and live in freedom”. Hereu used as an example the fact that the City Hall itself is a place where gay, lesbian and transsexual people can get freely married. He emphasised that the monument “is a good-will statement from Barcelona” and reminded those present that “we have to remember that there are countries around the Mediterranean Sea where such ceremonies would not be able to be held”.

While the ceremony was taking place, some neighbours from the Trinitat neighbourhood appeared demanding a “better neighbourhood”. The Mayor asked the neighbours not to mix their claims with the LGBT monument. He said the neighbours have the right to protest and that both issues, the LGTB monument and their claims for a better neighbourhood, are ways to “work for a better city”.

Xavier Trias, the candidate for Mayor from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), underlined that “this monument is an act of justice and is backed by the highest unanimity and consensus”. The candidate from the Catalan Green Socialist Party, Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds (ICV), Ricard Gomà, emphasised the effort the Barcelona LGBTgroups have made in order to put an end to discrimination and inequality and stressed that these efforts needed such public recognition.

Controversy on the monument’s location

The first place chosen for the location of the monument was in the park in front of the Sagrada Família Basilica. When asked about this controversy, Hereu replied that it was not “a good location” for the monument because “he did not want to mix messages”. On the other hand, Gomà implied that the Ciutadella Park was not the better place for this type of monument, since Barcelona has a lot more symbolic locations. However, he said that the park “is a fantastic place”. Meanwhile, Trias expressed that placing the monument near the Sagrada Família church was “nonsense, and that in the end an intelligent decision has been taken with the consensus of everyone”. Despite the opposition of the Archbishop of Barcelona, the location in the Ciutadella Park “is appropriate because in 1991 a transsexual person was killed there”, reminded those present Eugeni Rodríguez, spokesman for the ‘Front d’Alliberament Gai de Catalunya, FAGC’ (‘Gay Liberation Movement of Catalonia’).