The 20-year-old told police he was attacked on Sunday at the entrance to his apartment building in the trendy Malasana district near the Spanish capital’s lively gay heighbourhood.
He claimed the assailants cut his lower lip with a knife then scored the word “maricón”, meaning “faggot” into his buttocks, while spewing homophobic attacks.
But on Wednesday he “decided to rectify his initial statement and said the injuries allegedly inflicted had been consensual,” an interior ministry source told AFP.
The alleged attack came just two months after a young gay man was beaten to death in northern Spain in another suspected homophobic attack and it drew a sharp rebuke from Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
The premier said there was “no place for hatred” and he called an urgent meeting for Friday of Spain’s commission against hate crimes.
Leftist parties and rights groups also accused far-right party Vox of encouraging homophobic attacks with its vocal opposition to gay rights.
News that the young man, who has not been identified, had changed his story sparked a flurry of reaction.
Equality Minister Irene Montero tweeted that “hate crimes against LGBTI people rose 43 percent during the first half of 2021” over the same period last year.
She urged people not to focus on the “tree which hides the forest”.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said it was “anecdotal” that the man had changed his story “because hate crimes have risen”.
“And obviously there is public conduct, online behaviour which encourage hate crimes, lets not trivialise,” he told private television La Sexta.
But Javier Giner, a film director and gay activist, lashed out at the youth, saying he had done “unnecessary and gratuitous harm to all victims of homophobic attacks and to everyone who fights to end them.”
Two months ago Samuel Luiz, 24, was beaten to death near a nightclub in the northern city of Coruna in an attack denounced by Sanchez as “savage and merciless”. It brought huge crowds onto the streets in protest.
A protest called for Wednesday night in central Madrid in response to the supposed attack would still take place, organisers said.