Madrid Mayor Continues War Against Pride Festival
The city of Madrid has ramped up fines punishing Madrid Pride organizers, a trend that, if continued, could see one of the globe's most vibrant celebrations "strangled" to death.
"You can't levy such barbaric fines on an event that's so important to the city," said Boti Rodrigo, president of the Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales. "These fines put the survival of Madrid Pride in serious jeopardy."
This is the fourth successive year the festival has been fined for noise violations. Past fines ranged from €35,000-€50,000, against which organisers successfully appealed and had reduced or waived. The courts have so far reduced one of the fines to €600, but have yet to rule on the other two. This year's edition of Madrid Pride, held in July, earned 15 fines totalling €159,809. Organisers have appealed against the fines, but said it could take more than a year before they find out if their appeal is successful.
"We've never seen city hall so short-sighted, with such little political will towards us," said Rodrigo. The celebration of gay pride, started in 1979, attracts an estimated 1.5 million people each year and offers the city a chance to "show that Madrid is an open, multicultural and tolerant city".
Mayor Ana Botella is largely blamed for the anti-gay animus Madrid has experienced in recent years. Botella is an outspoken member of the anti-gay People's Party, which unsuccessfully attempted to appeal same-sex marriage last year.