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Catalonia passes divisive anti-homophobia law

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Despite all the opposition from Spain's ruling conservatives, Catalonia has set a worldwide precedent in the fight against homophobia. Photo: Curto de la Torre/AFP
10:53 CEST+02:00
In a first ever for Spain, the Catalan Parliament approved on Thursday a law which will punish those who attack gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals with fines of up to €14,000 ($17,700).

The vote received the backing of left-wing groups but was opposed by Catalan nationalists Unió and regional representatives of Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party (PP).

The latter are against aspects of the bill which place emphasis on “positive discrimination” and a clause which states that the person accused of homophobia will have to prove his or her innocence, rather than being presumed innocent until proven guilty as is usually the case.

"Why isn't there an anti-discrimination law for immigrants or ethnic minorities?" argued PP spokesperson Dolors López, according to the Spanish edition of the Huffington Post.

"You can’t come up with a specific law for every group suffering discrimination.

"This law grants the LGBT collective an extraordinary system of protection that other groups don’t enjoy."

The PP spokesperson was also referring to the fact that the legislation will force Catalan authorities to receive the guidance of the Catalan LGBT Council, a decision her party claims will "step on the toes of the state and its powers over penal matters".

But despite all the opposition from Spain’s ruling conservatives, Catalonia has set a worldwide precedent in the fight against homophobia.

“Without fines, this law would be a mere statement of intent. It’s meant to act as deterrent,” left-wing ERC politician Anna Simó told Spanish daily El País of the €14,000 fines.

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David Company of Initiative for Catalonia Greens also argued that the law isn't “a privilege for gays, it reinforces the rights of minorities”. 

Spain is one of the more progressive countries in the world on gay rights. The country legalized gay marriage in 2005 under the former Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.     

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