• ‘You don’t have to be afraid to use the word’, Gabriel Rufián tells PP’s Rajoy
• ERC deputy urges more measures against HIV, removal of VAT tax on condoms
In a widely announced move in Spain’s lower house of parliament Wednesday, the spokesman for the Catalan pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, Republican Left of Catalonia), called out prime minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) to declare his position on the use of condoms on the eve of UN-designated World AIDS Day today.
Gabriel Rufián, who since entering Congress earlier this year has become known for his provocative interventions in parliamentary debates, took aim directly at Rajoy and the PP’s perceived strong support of Catholic church positions on sexuality by using the polite word of preservativos for condoms in asking the prime minister: “What measures is your government contemplating toward promoting the use of preservativos?”
When Rajoy’s response outlined his government’s pledge to combat the HIV virus and the spread of AIDS, without actually referencing preservativos, Rufián chided the prime minister by saying he didn’t have to be afraid of the word preservativo and could even use the word “condom”. Rufián then criticised Rajoy’s government for not doing enough to combat HIV and called for the government should remove the 21 percent value-added tax (VAT) on condoms as a health measure in order to make them more readily available to the general public.
The Spanish government estimates there are between 139,000-160,000 people in Spain currently infected with the HIV virus and that 20-25 percent of those with HIV have not yet been diagnosed and are unaware that they are carryiers of the virus. In 2015, nearly 3,500 new cases of HIV infection were detected in Spain, with the rate of infection nationwide estimated at 9.44 per 100,000 people.