Indications of homophobic 'hunters' in Catalonia, says interior minister
Observatory Against Homophobia reports a 30% rise in incidents so far this year
Homophobic attacks are on the rise in Catalonia in various forms, physical, verbal, and otherwise, and the interior minister has warned that there are indications of groups who go out to "hunt" gay people.
Across Spain, the public has been left in a state of shock after the recent murder of 24-year-old Samuel Luiz Muñiz in Galicia and this week’s attack in Madrid’s neighbourhood of Malasaña.
By August, Catalonia’s Observatory Against Homophobia reported a rise in homophobic aggressions for 2021 so far of around 30%. The first eight months of the year saw 175 incidents be denounced.
Of these incidents, 31.4% were verbal assaults while 15.4% were physical. Some 38% occurred in public spaces, 13% were on social networks, and 6.8% on public transport.
Spokesperson for the entity Eugeni Rodríguez acknowledged the trend was moving in a "bad" direction and warned that in the coming months, cases will likely rise.
In response to this, the Observatory has announced that it will launch a special device to prevent aggressions during the La Mercè Barcelona ‘festa major’.
Minister warns of “hunting” groups
Meanwhile, Catalonia’s interior minister Joan Ignasi Elena said on Wednesday that there were “indications” of the existence of particular groups who meet up to “hunt” homosexuals.
Speaking on the radio station Rac1, the minister avoided describing the groups as organized, but said they were fuelled by “hatred of difference.”
He attributed the existence of the groups to "a social component” of endorsement of the hatred which encourages groups to go one step further.
However, the minister affirms that LGBTQ+ people “should not be afraid” because “fear is the victory of these people.” He asked them to behave normally because "in the end, we will end up winning,” adding that the Catalan police will be by their side.
Faced with the "extremely serious" situation, Elena said that his department body was "relentless."
The Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police forces have a team of fifteen people specializing in hate crimes and the force is currently conducting specialized training for all officers on this issue.
Recent incidents in Catalonia
Several high-profile incidents have shocked Catalonia this year, including two gay couples being attacked on one of Barcelona’s beaches in late May this year.
Barcelona City Council will act as a private prosecutor in the judicial case relating to the incidents which left one person with a maxillary fracture.
Yuri and Andree were brutally assaulted in Barcelona on June 24 and told their story to the media a few weeks later.
On their way one evening in Gràcia, a man stopped them and asked for a lighter. He then looked at them carefully, and said: "I’m going to kill you, faggots."
What followed was an "extremely violent" aggression, which left them physically injured and psychologically shocked. "For a moment I thought we would not survive," Andree said, recalling the incident in an interview with the Catalan News Agency.
At a protest during the summer to condemn the rise in homophobia, LGBTQ activists called for a “paradigm shift” in the fight against homophobia in Catalonia.
"We must get ourselves back to work, we must put all mechanisms in place," Eugeni Rodríguez of the Observatory Against Homophobia stated.