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Monday, January 3, 2011

Gays Gain Monument in Barcelona

By Kilian Melloy -

A new monument to gays may find a home near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
A new monument to gays may find a home
near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
The Spanish city of Barcelona is preparing to construct a monument to gays that will commemorate the suffering of GLBTs throughout history.

The city announced plans to create the monument on Dec. 30, 2010, reported the AFP. A possible location for the monument is a space near a famous Catholic basilica, the Sagrada Familia, which drew notice in November when Pope Benedict XVI visited the structure, first begun 128 years ago, and consecrated it as a place of worship.

During the consecration, the Pope spoke out against gay families; in protest, about 200 gays mounted a "kiss in" outside the church.

The monument, which is made of pink stone and shaped as a triangle, will bear a simple message reading, "In memory of the gays, lesbians and transsexual people who have suffered persecution and repression throughout history. Barcelona 2011." The marker is not expected to take long to install; city officials anticipate seeing it in place as early as next month, the AFP article said.

The AFP noted that during the reign of dictator Francisco Franco, gays in Spain were apprehended and remanded to institutions. The article said that activists draw comparisons between the state-run facilities and concentration camps. But in 1979, several years after Franco’s death and Spain’s return to democracy, homosexuality was decriminalized.

The current Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has been friendly toward GLBTs. Six years ago, Spain became one of a handful of European nations to provide full marriage equality, allowing gay and lesbian families equal access to the legal protections and social status of matrimony.

Those changes have not been universally embraced in a country with a deep Roman Catholic religious tradition. On Jan. 2, Archbishop Antonio Rouco Varela--backed by the anti-gay Popular Party, which is politically conservative--led a religious service specifically dedicated to celebrating heterosexual marriage, the Associated Press reported on Jan. 2.

The service took place in Madrid, where Varela told the crowd, "Whenever the true worth of matrimony and family values is questioned, negative consequences come forward rapidly." Pope Benedict XVI appeared to the crowd also, by means of a video link.

GLBT news blog Queerty reported on the Barcelona monument on Dec. 31.

"While school districts in California battle for the right to simply include LGBTs in history textbooks, Barcelona is making the leap and erecting a queer monument to honor the contributions we’ve made throughout Spain’s history," text at the site read.

Queerty noted that last summer regional health officials investigated a facility that offered so-called "conversion therapy" touted as helping gays turn straight. "We do not consider homosexuality as an illness, far from it," the health ministry stated.

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.


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