Spain: Government Encourages Citizens to Inform on Neighbors, Family Members That Violate LGBT Privileges Law
CATALONIA, Spain – The Catalonian government, ruled by the pro-independence coalition Junts pel Si, has run advertisements on TV3, a major network, to encourage citizens to anonymously inform on one another when they violate an LGBT privileges law enacted in 2014.
The law, approved by then-president Artur Mas in 2014, is called the “Law to Eradicate Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.” The law is peculiar with respect to the body of Western legal tradition in that it reverses the burden of proof: It is the defendant (in this case, anonymously betrayed via telephone) who must prove his innocence. The accused is considered guilty until innocence is demonstrated.
Article 30 of the law reads as follows:
Reversing the burden of proof: in accordance with the provisions of the procedural and laws governing administrative procedures, when the plaintiff or a person alleges discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression and provides legitimate grounds for suspicion, it is therefore for the defendant, or the one to whom the discriminatory situation is imputed, to provide an objective and reasonable justification, sufficiently proven, of the measures taken and their proportionality.
The Catalan law of LGBT privileges (model for other similar laws in Spain) can be read here in Spanish.
The TV3 ad asks that people call the 012 phone line and inform on their neighbors or anyone who violates this law. “It is is up to all to avoid situations of discrimination or violence,” says the host of the announcement, Helena Garcia Melero, adding: “If you have experienced or detected in your environment that these rights have been violated, call 012.” The announcement is paired with images of same-sex couples holding babies. To raise the question of whether the baby is not entitled to a father and mother, for example, could be denounced as “discriminatory comments.”
Cases of discrimination can be very varied. For example, Article 26 of the law states, “The owners of establishments open to the public … are required to prevent access or expel … persons who violate others in word or deed on grounds of sexual orientation … and people that publicly exhibit symbols, clothing or objects that incite violence, discrimination or homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.” With this article in hand, you can call 012 and report that in such a local bar a customer came in with “a symbol that leads to discrimination” (which could be anything) and report that the bar owner did not expel the client as the law requires. Under Article 30, the bar owner will be guilty until proven innocent. Similarly you can denounce teachers, bosses, employees, etc. … simply by calling 012 and asking that they be investigated.
The CatDialeg news portal has published criticism of this law, noting that “the accusation is contrary to the rule of law and is typical of a regime like National Socialism or Castro … anyone can use the anonymous pleas and this law for personal revenge, and the accused can hardly defend himself and the law considers him guilty until he proves his innocence. Inciting informers, either by letter or television, is a very dangerous action, which imposes distrust among neighbors.”
As of this writing, more than a hundred institutions have signed a document declaring the law to be unconstitutional and attempting to appeal it to the Catalan legal system.
Translated from the Spanish with the aid of Google Translate. Emphasis reproduced from original.