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 said to El Mundo that Luiz had left 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 badly 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 CoruÃ±a, Madrid, Barcelona, ââValencia, Salamanca, Bilbao and Zaragoza . The demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as “Your homophobia is killing us”.
Politicians in Madrid demanded an explanation from the central government after some protesters in the capital were killed and indicted by riot police late Monday. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro SÃ¡nchez denounced the murder and offered his condolences to Luiz’s friends and family.
“I am confident that the police investigation will soon find those who murdered Samuel and shed light on what happened,” he said. tweeted Monday. âIt 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.
JosÃ© MiÃ±ones, 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.
The murder came less than a week after the annual Spanish pride celebrations and days after the socialist-led coalition government of SÃ¡nchez 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 published last year by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 41% of respondents in Spain had experienced some form of harassment because they were 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.