Is Homophobia Rising in Spain? The Recent Murder of a Young Gay Man Does Not Bode Well

Is homophobia rising in Spain
Image: Yannis Papanastasopoulos
Is homophobia rising in Spain
Image: Yannis Papanastasopoulos

On 3 July, Gay Pride weekend, Samuel Luiz, a 24-year-old gay man, was brutally kicked to death by what the Police have called “a mob” of about seven people in A Coruña (Galicia). 

Samuel was hanging out with a friend outside a nightclub in the early hours of Saturday. He pulled out his smartphone and made a video call to their friend. 

A group of people who were passing by believed that Samuel was filming them. A man walked up to him and punched him in the face. Samuel left, but a few minutes later, the assailant, accompanied by a group of friends, followed Samuel and kicked him for more than 150 metres down a street. He died in the hospital of head injuries.

Four people aged between 20 and 25 have so far been sent to prison, and another two are in a juvenile centre. 

The murder has shocked Spain, and although the Police have not yet confirmed that it was a homophobic murder, witnesses say the aggressor did shout homophobic slurs at Samuel before beating him (“Stop recording us, you fag, or I’ll kill you!”). The LGTBIQ+ community supports that claim and has turned Luiz into a symbol for basic rights. For some LGTBIQ+ associations, Luiz’s death marks a before and after for the movement, which denounces that this isn’t an isolated case. 

Indeed, more cases of gender-related hate crimes have been reported over the past few weeks. In early June, a young man was taken to hospital in Basauri (Bizkaia) after being violently attacked by nine men aged between 18 and 27 years. A trans woman was verbally and physically abused in Santiago de Compostela. And yesterday, it was reported that an 18-year-old had been beaten by his younger brother in Mallorca while calling him a fag. The minor was detained by the police along with their father, who did nothing to stop the fight and eventually joined his younger son.

What does the data say?

A large part of Spanish society is witnessing in disbelief how homophobia and gender-related hate crimes are growing. Gay marriage and adoption were legalized in 2005 and society at large embraced the new individual rights. In a 2019 study by Pew Research Centre, Spain ranked third among the most gay-friendly countries in the world after Sweden and the Netherlands. And two weeks ago, the new Trans Law was approved by the government. 

Data shows that there is a slight uptick in homophobic crimes. According to the latest report on hate crimes carried out by the Interior Ministry, published in 2019, 1,706 hate crimes were perpetrated that year, 287 (16.3%) of which were gender-related. That figure represents an 8.6% increase with respect to the year before. But for the Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELTGTB), that figure underestimates reality since the government only includes complaints filed at police stations, while the FELTGTB reports reflect all the complaints gathered by different sources, which are not necessarily denounced to the Police. The gap in the figures is remarkable —971 versus 287. 

The LGTBIQ+ community believes that ultraconservative sectors and far-right parties such as Vox are pushing the agenda towards the erosion of hard-fought rights. This, in turn, is encouraging attacks and legitimising violence against the collective.

Vox is now the third force in the Spanish parliament. It recently supported homophobic laws in Hungary and has pledged on several occasions to curtail gay prides. In Madrid, the party was instrumental for Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the PP to become the regional president. Now, Vox has persuaded her party to reform the LGTBI and Trans Law in Madrid, following their request to repeal them. 

Dearexpat, is aimed at English-speaking readers who have been living in Spain for long enough to be interested in the country’s current affairs, with a focus on politics, the economy, society, and culture. In fact, anyone, anywhere with a keen interest in Spain might find it helpful. Since we are usually overwhelmed by an endless outpouring of news, this newsletter will be published on Fridays to provide readers with an overview of the most noteworthy events taking place during the week.

Get up to date with what is going on in Spain in just one go.
Sign up to Dearexpat,

On 3 July, Gay Pride weekend, Samuel Luiz, a 24-year-old gay man, was brutally kicked to death by what the Police have called “a mob” of about seven people in A Coruña (Galicia). 

Samuel was hanging out with a friend outside a nightclub in the early hours of Saturday. He pulled out his smartphone and made a video call to their friend. 

A group of people who were passing by believed that Samuel was filming them. A man walked up to him and punched him in the face. Samuel left, but a few minutes later, the assailant, accompanied by a group of friends, followed Samuel and kicked him for more than 150 metres down a street. He died in the hospital of head injuries.

Four people aged between 20 and 25 have so far been sent to prison, and another two are in a juvenile centre. 

The murder has shocked Spain, and although the Police have not yet confirmed that it was a homophobic murder, witnesses say the aggressor did shout homophobic slurs at Samuel before beating him (“Stop recording us, you fag, or I’ll kill you!”). The LGTBIQ+ community supports that claim and has turned Luiz into a symbol for basic rights. For some LGTBIQ+ associations, Luiz’s death marks a before and after for the movement, which denounces that this isn’t an isolated case. 

Indeed, more cases of gender-related hate crimes have been reported over the past few weeks. In early June, a young man was taken to hospital in Basauri (Bizkaia) after being violently attacked by nine men aged between 18 and 27 years. A trans woman was verbally and physically abused in Santiago de Compostela. And yesterday, it was reported that an 18-year-old had been beaten by his younger brother in Mallorca while calling him a fag. The minor was detained by the police along with their father, who did nothing to stop the fight and eventually joined his younger son.

What does the data say?

A large part of Spanish society is witnessing in disbelief how homophobia and gender-related hate crimes are growing. Gay marriage and adoption were legalized in 2005 and society at large embraced the new individual rights. In a 2019 study by Pew Research Centre, Spain ranked third among the most gay-friendly countries in the world after Sweden and the Netherlands. And two weeks ago, the new Trans Law was approved by the government. 

Data shows that there is a slight uptick in homophobic crimes. According to the latest report on hate crimes carried out by the Interior Ministry, published in 2019, 1,706 hate crimes were perpetrated that year, 287 (16.3%) of which were gender-related. That figure represents an 8.6% increase with respect to the year before. But for the Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELTGTB), that figure underestimates reality since the government only includes complaints filed at police stations, while the FELTGTB reports reflect all the complaints gathered by different sources, which are not necessarily denounced to the Police. The gap in the figures is remarkable —971 versus 287. 

The LGTBIQ+ community believes that ultraconservative sectors and far-right parties such as Vox are pushing the agenda towards the erosion of hard-fought rights. This, in turn, is encouraging attacks and legitimising violence against the collective.

Vox is now the third force in the Spanish parliament. It recently supported homophobic laws in Hungary and has pledged on several occasions to curtail gay prides. In Madrid, the party was instrumental for Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the PP to become the regional president. Now, Vox has persuaded her party to reform the LGTBI and Trans Law in Madrid, following their request to repeal them. 

Dearexpat, is aimed at English-speaking readers who have been living in Spain for long enough to be interested in the country’s current affairs, with a focus on politics, the economy, society, and culture. In fact, anyone, anywhere with a keen interest in Spain might find it helpful. Since we are usually overwhelmed by an endless outpouring of news, this newsletter will be published every Friday to provide readers with an overview of the most noteworthy events taking place during the previous week.

Get up to date with what is going on in Spain in just one go. Sign up to Dearexpat,

Dearexpat, is aimed at English-speaking readers who have been living in Spain for long enough to be interested in the country’s current affairs, with a focus on politics, the economy, society, and culture. In fact, anyone, anywhere with a keen interest in Spain might find it helpful. Since we are usually overwhelmed by an endless outpouring of news, this newsletter will be published every Friday to provide readers with an overview of the most noteworthy events taking place during the previous week.

Get up to date with what is going on in Spain in just one go. Sign up to Dearexpat,