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A 20-year-old Spanish gay man who told police that an anti-gay mob carved a homophobic slur into his buttocks has reportedly recanted his claims.
The initial story sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ community in Spain’s capital city of Madrid, after the man said he was cornered in the entrance to his home and attacked last week.
He claimed that a mob of eight people wearing face coverings yelled homophobic slurs, before using a knife to cut his lip and carve “faggot” into his buttock.
It led to condemnation from Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and protests from LGBTQ people demanding better protections against increasing levels of violence.
But Spain’s Interior Ministry said Wednesday that the alleged victim had since told police that the carving of the word was a consensual act.
Police had failed to find any witnesses to the attack, despite it allegedly taking place in broad daylight. Nor could anyone place the victim on the street or in a store prior to the attack where he claimed to have visited, El Pais reports.
During another interview with police, the man allegedly admitted that the carving was “consensual, in the house of another person with whom I had a sexual relationship.”
He told police that he had lied in order to protect the truth from his partner, who had “dragged” him to the police station after seeing the word on his buttocks.
Despite the recanting of the claims, protests related to the initial alleged attack went ahead, with thousands of people gathering in Barcelona and Madrid.
LGBTQ organization Movimento Marika Madrid pointed out that anti-LGBTQ attacks continued to take place — even if this particular one hadn’t occurred.
“In recent days there have also been [homophobic] attacks in Toledo, Melilla, Castellón and Vitoria,” they said in a statement. “Because they killed Samuel for being queer,” a reference to Samuel Luiz, a 24-year-old gay man who was beaten to death in an anti-gay attack in July.
The Organization of the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans and Bisexuals (FELGTB) told El Pais, “The rise in cases continues to be there, even though the one in Malasaña was false.”
“That doesn’t erase the number of offenses that there are, nor those that have happened over recent days,” they said. “Cases such as this, of course, do us damage. There will be people who try to take advantage of this to say that hate crimes are not true, but there has been a growth in cases and since the murder of Samuel Luiz there is fear among the collective.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who initially condemned the alleged attack after it was reported, said that despite the attack being false, it “cannot prevent us from seeing reality. Hate crimes against LGTBI people have increased.”
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