Madrid LGBT law faces Catholic church backlash

PP Madrid's Facebook page attests to party's leadership in passing law barring anti-LGBT discrimination. Image: PP Madrid
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• Pro-church media attack anti-homophobia legislation as ‘discriminatory’
• Backlash follows move to deny Catholic school funding over director’s remarks

News media and websites linked to the Catholic church in Spain and at the Vatican have lashed out at the LGBT community and supporters in the regional community of Madrid, following the announcement by Madrid-based LGBT rights group Arcópoli that it will seek enforcement of Madrid’s new anti-homophobia law by demanding a halt to public funding of a Catholic school whose director sent a letter to parents referring to homosexuality as unnatural and comparing the new law against homphobia in the Madrid region to Islamic terrorism.

The wave of online articles has hit a crescendo over the past two weeks, with scores of religious news websites with names such as Religion en Libertad, InfoCatolica and Infovaticana following the lead of Spanish pro-church newspaper La Gaceta in attacking Madrid’s LGBT community and the regional Madrid parliament’s unanimous approval in July of the new legislation.

The law, which was shepherded through through the Madrid regional assembly in compliance with a campaign pledge by regional President Cristina Cifuentes of the conservative Partido Popular (PP), which governs the Madrid region and is a traditional ally of the Catholic church in Spain, expressly prohibits and provides sanctions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity, while mandating sexual-diversity education at publicly funded schools throughout the Madrid region.

In late-September, Arcópoli said it would recur to the terms of Madrid regional anti-homophobia law to demand withdrawal of public funding from the Juan Pablo II high school in Alcorcón, a suburban city of 168,000 southwest of the Spanish capital, whose director had written to the parents of students condemning the Madrid anti-homophobia law as a “barbarity that goes against the natural law of man.” After having expressed sympathy in his letter for the victims of the July jihadist terrorist attack in Nice, France, the school’s director went on to say that “the similarity (of the Madrid anti-homophobia law) with terrorist fanaticism is worrisome.”

The thrust of the backlash in the pro-church media is condemnation of the law and the effort to restrict funding for the Catholic school on the basis of discrimination, decrying what it calls Spain’s “LGBT lobby” that it says is behind the legislation and is forcing its “ideology” onto parents and children at Catholic schools, which in Spain continue to receive public subsidies under agreements with local and regional governments.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo, La Vanguardia and El Diario …

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