A Barcelona judge has refused to impound a bus being used to campaign against Spain’s gender-violence laws and what its slogans describe as “feminazis.”
The bus, which was launched by the ultraconservative Catholic organization Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard) on Friday in Madrid, reached the Catalan capital on Monday.
The public prosecutor called for the bus to be stopped on the grounds that sexist messages should not be allowed to circulate in the city
The Catalan regional government called on Barcelona prosecutors to file a complaint with the courts, arguing the campaign constituted a hate crime and discriminated on the basis of sex and gender. The Barcelona public prosecutor presented the complaint against Hazte Oír and called for the bus to be stopped on the grounds that sexist messages should not be allowed to circulate in the city.
But the judge ruled that even though the campaign’s messages may be considered “abhorrent and even repugnant,” they were protected by “freedom of speech.”
The bus calls on Spain’s conservative political leaders – Pablo Casado from the Popular Party (PP), Albert Rivera from Ciudadanos (Citizens) and Santiago Abascal from the far-right party Vox – to repeal the 2004 gender violence law and legal protections granted by Spanish regions to the LGBTQI community.
“It’s not gender violence, it’s domestic violence” is the main message plastered on the bus. “Gender laws discriminate against men. Casado, Rivera, Abascal: Repeal the gender laws,” is written below.
The bus also features an image of Adolf Hitler wearing makeup and the symbol of feminism on his military cap, above the hashtag “#StopFeminazis.”
Barcelona’s municipal police force fined the bus for breaking the city’s ordinance on social harmony and the Catalan Advertising Law
The judge criticized the use of Hitler’s face, arguing it “takes us back to a shameful past for humanity, the epitome of the widespread and systematic violation of the most basic and essential human rights.” But the court ruled that the messages did not represent a criminal offense, meaning the bus could not be impounded.
Members of the Catalan anti-capitalist organization Arran stopped the vehicle on Monday when it reached the Diagonal avenue at the crossroads with Maria Cristina street. The activists threw paint at the vehicle and tore off a few of its stickers. The organization later complained on social media that their protest was broken up by members of the Catalan regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra. The bus was allowed to travel throughout the city toward one of architect Antoni Gaudí’s most famous landmarks, the Sagrada Familia.
Barcelona’s municipal police force fined the bus for breaking the city’s ordinance on social harmony and the Catalan Advertising Law.
According to the Barcelona public prosecutor, Hazte Oír’s campaign breaks equality laws, especially those designed to protect women. The bus left the city after prosecutors filed the complaint.
“Like the message or not, we are here,” said Hazte Oír spokesperson Teresa García at a press conference in Barcelona. According to García, the petition to repeal Spain’s gender-violence laws has already received 20,000 signatures.
English version by Melissa Kitson.