Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez promised tougher penalties to prevent hate crime on Wednesday, after a brutal homophobic attack at the weekend caused outrage throughout the nation.
Speaking to lawmakers, Sanchez said the government would do everything in its power to prevent hate crimes. He called on parliament to move swiftly to pass a bill on equal treatment of minorities that was introduced earlier this year.
His comments come as the nation reels from an incident on Sunday, in which eight hooded men attacked a homosexual man in Malasana, a Madrid neighbourhood popular for its nightlife.
The victim was hospitalized with injuries that included the word “maricon” – slang for “gay” – carved into one of his buttocks, according to media reports.
Those behind the attack have not yet been identified.
There are also organized attacks targeting homosexuals and other minorities nationwide, say human rights groups. The Catalan Interior Ministry spoke of a “hunt” on Wednesday.
There were 43 per cent more hate crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation throughout Spain in the first half of 2021 than in the whole of 2020.