“Fucking fucking transsexual”, “what the hell are you”, “faggot”… With these constantly repeated humiliating insults, Hugo Soleto (Cáceres, 28 years old) was received in a gambling hall in the city of Extremadura. The aggressors were two men aged 19 and 23 whom he tried to ignore, but the issue did not stop there. “When they went out to smoke, they bumped me on the shoulder and the insults escalated. One of them approached me, hitting my chest like a gorilla, he head-butted me and, when I turned to leave, he came from behind and punched me in the face,” Soleto recalls angrily. The reason: being a trans man. The bloody nose and a black eye were the physical consequences of that attack for reasons of LGTBIphobia that occurred in March 2023. A typology of hate crimes, against sexual orientation and gender identity, whose sentences have increased by 25 in 2022 % compared to the previous year, according to the Annual Report of the Prosecutor’s Office presented last week.
The sentences have gone from 30 in 2021 to 37 in 2022, the last year with data collected in the report. The State Attorney General, Álvaro García Ortiz, wanted to highlight his concern about this growth in the presentation of the judicial year that took place last Thursday. “The report of the Prosecutor’s Office warns of the rise in crimes motivated by LGTBIphobia, which occupy first place in convictions for crimes of hate and discrimination, followed by racism and xenophobia,” García Ortiz mentioned.
The upward trend in this type of crime skyrocketed in 2021. Thus, from the 169 events known in 2015, either through a complaint or police action, it rose to 466 two years ago, which represents an increase of 175% , according to data managed by the Ministry of the Interior. In 2022 there was a slight decrease and 459 were registered. These figures allow a double reading, according to the prosecutor of the Chamber against Hate and Discrimination Crimes, Miguel Ángel Aguilar, since it may be due to either the fact that there is a greater number of complaints , or because crimes of this type have increased. “Awareness campaigns make it easier for victims to report, but it may also be that there really is an increase in incidents on the street. “I do not rule out that it is a sum of both circumstances,” explains the prosecutor.
Groups in defense of LGTBI people agree that the main reason for this increase is the proliferation of hate speech. “The extreme right puts us at the level of the sick, of pedophiles, and accuses us of influencing the sexual orientation of children, and this causes other people with fewer filters to end up acting, as in the case of Samuel,” argues Fran Fernández. , general coordinator of the Lambda collective, in reference to the murder of Samuel Luiz. In July 2021, the 24-year-old young man was brutally attacked by a group of young people outside a bar in A Coruña shouting “faggot” and became a symbol of the fight against LGTBIphobia that triggered demonstrations throughout Spain. The hate crimes member of the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals, Bisexuals, Intersexuals and more (FELGTBI+), Laura González, also speaks along the same lines: “They seemed like speeches that we had already overcome, but they are becoming normalized again and this emboldens people to insult or attack the group.”
Anxiety and anguish took over Hugo Soleto during the weeks after the attack. “Someone came to talk to me from behind and I got scared right away,” he remembers. He has been receiving psychological care since the events occurred and was trying to find an explanation for what happened: “I kept asking myself why, why me, why me.” The fear of not being able to defend oneself and of suffering some more serious aggression still persists, he says.
Soleto decided to file a complaint at the insistence of the police officers who treated him and also wanted to continue with the judicial process, despite the uncertainty of possible retaliation. “I was very afraid in case something happened to my family or myself,” he remembers. Soleto’s case, however, is not common, since only 20% of hate crimes against the group are reported, according to the LGTBI+ Status 2023 report, published in May by the FELGTBI+. “I want it to serve to make it more visible and to push more victims to report,” Soleto argues.
The groups also agree on the three factors that keep the percentage of complaints at 20%: the circumstances of the victim, who if she reports is forced to come out of the closet in all areas of her life; the lack of trust in the police, and doubts about the resolution of their case at the judicial level. The general coordinator of Lambda explains that they are working with “the different bodies so that there is greater awareness.”
The Prosecutor’s Office warns in its Annual Report of “the difficulties in having effective control and being able to record and monitor complaints about hate crimes,” since the data does not always arrive homogenized from the communities. For this reason, prosecutor Aguilar is committed to promoting a unified count in the coming months or next year, as required in the Comprehensive Law for Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination, published in the Official State Gazette in July 2022. “It is necessary to put figures to the suffering,” says Aguilar.
Soleto began the transition process a year ago and estimates that he still has at least six more months left. Despite knowing that his attackers were not from Cáceres, he decided to leave work because he felt “a lot of anxiety.” He is now waiting for the trial to take place, expectedly this October, to try to start over: “I just want the trial to be held and for those people to learn.”
028 assists victims of hate crimes and discrimination due to LGTBIphobia 24 hours a day and in six languages, as does the email [email protected] and the chat www.igualdad.gob.es/Paginas/chat028 .html
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