Thousands of people have taken to the streets of cities across Spain to demand justice, equality and protection after a gay man was beaten to death in what police say could have been a homophobic attack.
Samuel Luiz, a 24-year-old nursing assistant, was out with friends in the Galician town of La Coruna in the early hours of Saturday when an argument broke out outside a nightclub.
His friends told El Mundo that Luiz had walked out of the club to make a video call when two passers-by accused him of attempting to film them on his phone. Luiz explained that he was speaking to a friend by video, but that he was allegedly attacked by one of the passers-by and his face was seriously bruised.
Five minutes later, the perpetrator reportedly returned with 12 other people who beat Luiz until he lost consciousness. He was taken to hospital where he died later on Saturday morning.
The attack, which is still under investigation, sparked revulsion across Spain and led to demonstrations on Monday evening in cities such as La Coruña, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Salamanca, Bilbao and Zaragoza . The demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as “Your homophobia is killing us”.
Politicians in Madrid have demanded an explanation from the central government after some protesters in the capital were killed and charged by riot police on Monday evening. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez denounced the murder and offered his condolences to Luiz’s friends and family.
“I am convinced that the police investigation will soon find those who murdered Samuel and shed light on what happened,” he said. tweeted Monday. “It was a savage and ruthless act. We will not take a step back in terms of rights and freedoms and Spain will not tolerate this.
José Miñones, central government delegate in Galicia, said police were examining whether the attack was motivated by homophobia, adding that the investigation was at a crucial stage.
No arrests were made, but Miñones said 15 people gave statements about what happened. ” The [security] the cameras will help us clarify what happened, ”he told Radio Voz on Tuesday.
The murder came less than a week after the annual Spanish pride celebrations and days after the socialist-led coalition government of Sánchez approved a bill to protect and strengthen the rights of LGBTI people.
Activists say the attack is proof of the violence to which LGBTI people are still subjected.
“We are mistreated and murdered for being LGBTI,” the National Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Federation said in a statement. on Twitter. “We will not rest. “
The federation said that if events like Pride make it “easy to celebrate diversity for one month a year, it won’t stop until we are all 100% committed to it forever.”
A study released last year by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency found that 41% of respondents in Spain had experienced some form of harassment for being LGBTI in the previous 12 months. It also revealed that 32% of those surveyed in Spain often or always avoid certain places or places for fear of being attacked, threatened or harassed because of their LGBTI identity.