Bar owner “harassed” after hanging rainbow flag for Madrid World Pride

Manager of building in the capital’s gay district complained it was not well suited to color of facade

The huge World Pride event in Madrid, which will run from today to July 2, is expected to attract more than two million people to the Spanish capital. But not everyone is getting into the spirit of the party. One café in the city’s Chueca district has been hit with numerous complaints after hanging a rainbow banner, signifying LGBT pride, outside its premises.

Cafetería Noma in Madrid was reported to the police over the rainbow flag.
Cafetería Noma in Madrid was reported to the police over the rainbow flag.EL PAÍS

“The police came six times between 8am on Tuesday morning and 12pm on Wednesday,” said the owner of Noma café in Chueca, where the lion’s share of the World Pride events are held, and a neighborhood widely recognized as being the center of the city’s vibrant LGBT scene.

On June 19, Noma’s owner received an email from the building-management firm calling for the removal of the multicolored banner. In that email, the managers said the decorations clashed with the building’s color scheme and neighbors had complained.

“We have shown soccer games where flags were hung up, and nobody said anything,” said the owner of the under-fire establishment.

Having a huge fire engine come up Infantas street to take down a banner seemed like a completely exaggerated response to me

Owner of Noma café

On Tuesday, while the owner was discussing the email with his lawyer, he received a call from workers at the café informing him that Madrid municipal police had called in the fire department to try to take down the banner.

“Having a huge fire engine come up Infantas street to take down a banner that wasn’t even tied down seemed like a completely over-the-top response to me. I said I wasn’t taking it down,” the owner explained. He went on to say that the police returned later the same day and asked for the banner to be removed due to complaints from building residents. Again, the café owner refused.

“When they saw I wasn’t going to take down the banner, they started making other types of complaints,” the owner said. These included alleged violations involving an oven on the premises, and a lack of necessary licenses.

“It seems like harassment from some of the residents, because we know it wasn’t the building community as a whole [that opposed to the banner],” said the owner of Noma.

The LGBT association Arcópolí is now assisting the café owner in his bid to keep the banner in place, with both arguing that the call to have it taken down is “homophobic discrimination.”

English version by George Mills.


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