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LGBTQ Rights

Bus with anti-transgender message is back on streets of Madrid

The vehicle, from ultra-Catholic group Hazte Oír, has already caused controversy on its previous outings

“It’s what biology says: boys have a penis. Girls have a vulva. Say no to gender indoctrination.” This is the controversial message emblazoned on a bus by the ultra-conservative group Hazte Oír (Make yourself heard), and which once again was to be seen on the streets of Madrid on Tuesday.

The Hazte Oír bus in Madrid on Tuesday.
The Hazte Oír bus in Madrid on Tuesday.

Just a few months ago, the same vehicle was fined and immobilized by the City Council, although at that time the anti-transsexual message was slightly different: “Boys have a penis. Girls have a vulva. Don’t let them fool you. If you are born a man, you are a man. If you are a woman, you will continue to be so.”

Despite the change in message, the rejection of the group’s slogan was the same on the streets of the capital

But despite the change in message, the rejection of the group’s slogan was the same on the streets of the Spanish capital today.

“Homophobes,” “Let us live in peace,” “You are being provocative,” were just some of the shouts from dozens of people aimed at the Hazte Oír activists, shortly after the bus parked at around 12.45pm near the Puerta del Sol. Some, such as Guillermo Sola, who is homosexual, or Alejandro, who is transsexual, explained that they could not remain impassive on seeing the bus on the streets of the city.

“I am gay and I’m also a person, and as such I respect everyone apart from those who insult us and discriminate against us every day,” said Sola.

“I’m transsexual and this bus does not respect me,” said Alejandro, 29. “The message it carries offends me, because it’s dictatorial.”

Some passers-by, however, voiced their support for the slogan on the bus.

“Today we end the first stage of the freedom bus,” said Ignacio Arsuaga, the president of Hazte Oír. “With it we have tried to get parents and citizens to see the extent to which in Spain laws are being approved that impose gender ideology in schools, sexual indoctrination, many times without parents even knowing it.” The president of the association also said that the message that they want to transmit to the politicians is that they should “leave the children alone.”

The motorhome that replaced the bus when it was impounded in Madrid.
The motorhome that replaced the bus when it was impounded in Madrid.

“On the route that the bus has taken through 11 autonomous regions a lot of politicians have threatened us and have even physically attacked the vehicle and its passengers,” Arsuaga added. “For this, above anyone else, we blame members of Podemos,” he said, in reference to the new left-wing anti-austerity group. The bus made a stop in Madrid today at the Podemos headquarters to hand over 18,000 signatures to the party leader, Pablo Iglesias, to “call on him to condemn the violence that, on many occasions, has been headed up by the party’s regional general secretaries.”

With a placard in her hand, Amelia, a member of Hazte Oír, made her opinion clear. “In no case is the message on the bus offensive,” she argued. “Isn’t it obvious that girls have a vulva and boys have a penis? It’s something natural, we are not saying something that is nonsense.”

Isn’t it obvious that girls have a vulva and boys have a penis?

Hazte Oír member Amelia

No one at the Podemos headquarters opened the door for the religious group, prompting them to leave. The bus later made stops at Spain’s Congress building and the Education Ministry.

As well as its tour of Spain, the Hazte Oír bus even made it as far as New York, where it was damaged by those in disagreement with its message and spray-painted with graffiti.

The origins of the bus campaign date back to January, when the transgender support group Chrysallis launched an awareness campaign in northern Spain using the slogan: “There are girls with penises and boys with vulvas.” Hazte Oír responded with an online petition to have the campaign pulled, which failed. The next step was their bus campaign.

Hazte Oír was set up in 2001 by lawyer Ignacio Arsuaga and has campaigned noisily against abortion rights, as well as attacking LGBT groups and women’s associations, using terms such as “the gay inquisition” and “the dictatorship of gender.” The organization says it has almost 7,000 members and revenue of €2.6 million from supporters.

A Madrid court has ruled that Hazte Oír has close links to El Yunque, a far-right group in Mexico that has organized demonstrations against gay rights there. Hazte Oír was approved by the Spanish Interior Ministry in 2013 as a not-for-profit association.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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