LGBT RIGHTS

After Madrid bans transphobic bus, Catholic group rolls out a motor home

Ultraconservatives alter ad on the vehicle in defiance of a court order calling it potential hate crime

The fight over Madrid’s “transphobic” bus has moved to a new battleground – or at least to a new vehicle. After a bus displaying a message viewed as a potential hate crime was impounded by local authorities, the ultraconservative group behind the campaign has rolled out a motor home with a similar ad.

The transphobic motor home gets ready to roll.
The transphobic motor home gets ready to roll.Carlos Rosillo

This time, Hazte Oír (or, Make yourself heard) has modified the message to read: “Do boys have penises? Do girls have vulvas?” after a Madrid judge said on Thursday that the bus would not be allowed on the city’s streets as long as it continued to bear the ad: “Boys have penises. Girls have vulvas. Don’t let them fool you. If you were born a man, you’re a man. If you’re a woman, you will continue to be one.”

The bus was detained by municipal police, who fined organizers for violating a local ordinance banning advertising on any vehicles other than public transportation. A judge later ruled that the bus should be impounded as a preventive measure until the matter of whether its message constitutes a hate crime is cleared up.

Ignacio Arsuaga, president Hazte Oír

On Friday, Hazte Oír rolled out the motor home, which was stopped and fined on the same grounds.

But the president of the organization, Ignacio Arsuaga, has already warned that “we will not be intimidated.”

The Catholic group, which has campaigned against abortion and LGBT rights in the past, is portraying the matter as a fight over freedom of speech.

Adherents of Hazte Oír believe the group is being victimized by the leftist administration of Manuela Carmena, who secured the mayor’s seat thanks to support from the anti-establishment Podemos party.

Arsuaga claims that the bus has been “hijacked” and that authorities are violating their own “right to express our ideas in public spaces.”

The Hazte Oír campaign is widely viewed as a response to an earlier set of ads run by a transgender children support group called Chrysallis. Those ads said: “There are girls with penises and boys with vulvas.”

But the Catholic group denies that they are running a counter-campaign.

“Our campaign is in favor of families’ fundamental right to educate their children freely, according to their own values,” said Hazte Oír organizers on Friday.

The judge who decided that the bus should remain at the pound argued that its message was directly aimed at people with a “different” sexual orientation in order to “deny and damage” their “dignity.”

But the group has already filed an appeal against that decision, even as Arsuaga renewed his attacks against the LGBT community.

“I lament that the Gay Inquisition has imposed its dictatorship,” he said.

English version by Susana Urra.

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