LGBT RIGHTS

“Meat or fish?” Barcelona bus raises issue of homophobia in Spain

Sant Boi launches sexual diversity awareness campaign challenging transgender ‘hate’ bus

Authorities in the Barcelona dormitory town of Sant Boi de Llobregat have launched a campaign aimed at “raising awareness about the town’s sexual diversity” featuring a series of questions on its municipal buses such as “Meat or fish?”, “Sweet or savory?” and “Blue or pink?”

A Sant Boi bus spreads its anti-homophobic message.
A Sant Boi bus spreads its anti-homophobic message.Joan Sánchez

Sant Boi’s initiative coincides with the uproar in Madrid earlier this month over a bus chartered by right-wing Catholic group Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard) plastered with the message: “Boys have penises, girls have vulvas. Don’t let them fool you. If you’re born a man, you’re a man. If you’re a woman, you will continue to be so.”

The distinctive orange vehicle, dubbed the “hate” bus, was immediately ordered off the roads of the capital, and other cities around Spain said they would follow suit, while another version of the bus recently made its debut on the streets of Manhattan.

But Sant Boi’s mayor, Lluïsa Moret of the Catalan Socialists (PSC) pointed out on Monday that the awareness campaign had been five months in the planning, noting: “Now Sant Boi has its bus. But this one encourages equality and respect.”

“It may seem as though [the campaign] was done deliberately [in response], but that is not the case” she said at a press conference to launch the initiative, pointing out that this wasn’t the first time that a municipal bus had been used to raise awareness about social issues and that this time around, a website had been created to encourage people to report discrimination and hostility toward people on the basis of their sexual identity.

Moret said the move was part of a efforts to develop legislation passed in 2014 by the regional parliament of Catalonia against homophobia.

She added that as well as encouraging people to report gender-based discrimination or hate speech on the council’s website, she expected a big response “in the education and sports spheres.”

The local council will use the data collected during the campaign to prepare a plan to protect the LGBT community later this year. “We want a town that is free of sexual discrimination,” said Moret, adding that the authorities want to create a “climate of tolerance” and prevent attacks such as those suffered by two gay men in the small town of Berga, some 60 kilometers north of Barcelona on March 13. “We have to combat the patriarchal ideas that have been imposed on us since we were very young,” she added.

 English version by Nick Lyne.

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