Police in Spain are looking for four hooded young men who attacked a young gay man and used a knife to carve an anti-gay slur onto his buttocks in broad daylight over the weekend.
According to a report in the Spanish-language El País, the hooded assailants allegedly attacked the man in the Malasaña neighborhood of Madrid on Sunday afternoon, cornering him at the entrance to his apartment. Police sources confirmed to El País the attackers allegedly shouted the victim was a “shiteater” and a “maricón” (a Spanish slur for a gay man) while using a knife to carve the latter slur into his buttocks.
“This is the first assault of this kind that we have heard of,” the spokesperson for the Spanish National Police said at a press conference. “The investigation is focusing on CCTV footage and on finding witnesses in order to identify the alleged attackers.”
“We’re just in a state of shock,” said Rubén López, coordinator of the Madrid Observatory against LGTBphobia, which tracks hate crimes in the nation’s capital. He described the attack as “the toughest thing I’ve seen in Madrid in my six years at the observatory and my 17 years as an activist.”
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, denounced the crime on Twitter, saying “Hatred has no place in our society.” He also promised to “continue to work for an open and diverse country, where no one has to be afraid for who they are.”
Sánchez will chair an emergency meeting of the country’s commission against hate crimes this Friday in response to the attack.
“Hate crimes must receive the highest social and political condemnation,” Isabel Rodriguez, a government spokesperson, was quoted by Reuters announcing the emergency meeting.
While often noted as a pioneer in recognizing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, Spain has seen a number of homophobic incidents and hate crimes in recent months. Most recently, police arrested three men for the brutal beating death of a gay man, Samuel Luiz, 24, outside a nightclub in A Coruña in July. A friend, Lina, who was with Luiz when he was murdered, said the two were outside sharing a cigarette and a video call with a mutual friend when a young man and a woman passed by. Lina said the man thought Luiz was recording the couple despite explanations to the contrary.
“Either stop recording or I'll kill you, f*ggot,” Lina recalled the attacker uttering moments before punching and assaulting him.
The pair left after the attack was stopped by a good Samaritan, but the attacker returned a short time later with a group of men who then beat Luiz to death.
“I heard someone yell ‘you fucking f*g!’” Lina said. “When I arrived I found Samuel on the ground unconscious, they were gone, they had left him lying there and had run away.”
Luiz was taken to a local hospital where he died a short time later.
Spain erupted in massive protests following the murder of Luiz, and local LGBTQ+ groups are calling for similar protests this Saturday in response to the most recent homophobic assault. López noted it was no coincidence that the attackers chose to carve the hateful slur on the victim’s buttocks.
“This message of hatred is awful, vicious,” said López.