A panel of judges from Spain’s Audiencia Nacional penal court has confirmed the Spanish government’s revocation last year of tax-exempt status from the ultra-right organization Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard), rejecting an appeal lodged by the group and saying that the government was right to remove the organization’s “public service” status because it had “failed to fulfill its responsibility to promote the general interest” of the public.
Last February, the Socialist government of President Pedro Sánchez announced it was suspending Hazte Oír’s tax-exempt status as an educational non-profit organization because the homophobic and specifically transgender-phobic messages displayed on the organization’s campaign buses were both disrespectful and “incompatible with any public recognition” by the Spanish government.
Hazte Oír appealed the Sánchez government’s decision, but in a decision taken in February and made public last week, the Fifth Section of the Audiencia’s Contentious-Administrative chamber upheld the government’s argument that tax-exempt status should be denied the organization because “people with a sexual orientation different from the ideology defended by the association were disrespected”.
In issuing their finding, the judges cited Article 32.1 of Spain’s Organic Law 1/2002 regarding the need for tax-exempt organizations to display “tolerance” in their activities, with the judges pointedly referencing Spain’s RAE (Royal Academy of Language) definition of the word as “respect for the ideas, beliefs or practices of others when they are different or contrary to their own”.
Hazte Oír President Ignacio Arsuaga decried the court ruling, calling it an attack on “several of the fundamental rights of our society such as freedom of expression or the right of citizens to associate”.
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