STILL bathing in the afterglow of Benidorm’s Pink Weekend in May, on June 10 I hooked up with Sammy Kruz, a member of the team that organises Pride and other related events in Benidorm. I needed some information from him to complete an article I was writing about the event for The Pink Humanist.

All involved in the Pink Weekend were elated over its success, and I was in an upbeat mood as I discussed the main points I intended highlighting in the piece. The most important, I thought, was the fact that it turned out to be an amazingly inclusive event. The crowds that gathered on the picturesque Mirador in Benidorm’s Old Town were made up of all nationalities, old and young, gay and straight, and they danced and sang and enthusiastically applauded the acts performing on a large stage.

Sammy told me that he wanted to emphasise that the sole aim of the organisers, and Benidorm Council which supported them, was to bring the community together and create a special event that could be enjoyed by all “in our beautiful town”, and that both the Spanish and international press had praised them for achieving a wonderfully inclusive atmosphere.

Spanish folk clamoured to be photographed with drag artist Roxie Corazon, who co-hosted Pink Weekend with Sammy Kruz

Then he totally wrecked my evening.

“There’s something you should be aware of,” he said, and showed me a copy of an article written by John Smith in Euro Weekly News, headed “Does Spain need to consider whether it is now too liberal?”

The very first line of that article, since removed from the paper’s website, had me gritting my teeth: “There is little doubt that during the Franco regime, some things could be considered better than they are today, in as much as the country was kept under a tight rein and there were less problems with hooliganism imported or home grown . . .”

Was this a wind-up, or the ravings of some neo-fascist dinosaur yearning to return to the slime of an epoch presided over by a murderous fascist tyrant whose cruel, iron-fisted control over the Spanish people had the full support of the Roman Catholic Church?

Reading on, it became clear it was the latter. Smith was in deadly earnest when he lamented the fact that Spanish women, in the years that followed Franco’s death in 1975, had become too assertive, too mouthy, too bossy.

He didn’t write that they should be bundled back into the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, but the following sentence suggests he sure as hell would like to see that happen:

“Like so many other nations, Spain has also entertained a certain amount of ‘political correctness’ which has to some extent seen a reduction in the machismo of the younger Spanish male and an ability for women to not just be vocal at home but to have a voice which can be heard across the country.”

Women using their voices? How very, very dare they! The idea clearly fills Herr Smith with horror.

Worse, there are now homosexuals with voices, voices so shrill that they can force local authorities into coughing up dosh to fund parades and fiestas at which perverts can flaunt their filthy lifestyles.

“Should local councils be promoting Gay Pride with large numbers of members of the LGBT factions parading around the streets shouting ‘We’re here. We’re queer! Get used to it!’?” the hatemonger asks.

I have no doubt that, were Smith to meet Svein Sellanraa, a Norwegian blogger who describes himself as a “reactionary”, he would shower him with kisses, for Sellanraa, author of a piece entitled “In defence of Francisco Franco”, wrote: “The real key to Left’s animosity towards Franco is not to be found in the Civil War, but in the peace which came after it . . .

“While the post-Vatican II Catholic Church was losing both disciples and principles by the boatload, the nacionalcatolicismo of Franco ensured the continued place of the pious and sacred in the lives of ordinary Spaniards; while the rest of the world felt trapped between the destructive avarice of American capitalism and the totalitarian attrition of Soviet Communism, the ‘Spanish Miracle’ proved that any nation willing to disregard the false dichotomy between these two economistic and materialistic ideologies could have its proverbial cake and eat it too; while atheism, androgynism, and multiculturalism cruelly beset most of Western Europe, Spain, along with Salazar’s Portugal, remained a lone outpost of decency in a seemingly infinite sea of muck . . .”


What did that “decency”mean for gays in Spain?

From 1954, the Franco regime imprisoned, tortured and often killed gays for violating the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, or Vagrancy Act.

The Act was established in 1933 to deal with people considered anti-social or a threat to society. Its primal objective was to control beggars, pimps, thugs and others who did not actively contribute to society. The Act was later modified to include the suppression of homosexuality.

Because homosexuality was listed as a criminal offence, gays were unable to work or contribute to pensions.

As homosexuality slowly transitioned from a crime to a mental illness, homosexuals were arrested and sent to “correction camps” in an attempt to cure them by means of electric-shock therapy – not unlike the voluntary ex-gay camps of today. The victims were also forced to watch heterosexual pornography as images of “normal” sexual behavior.

One of the most famous early victims of the regime was playwright Federico García Lorca, who wrote Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba. He was killed by firing squad in Grenada in 1936.

Homosexuality was illegal in Spain up until 1979.

In 2001, the country expunged the “criminal” from its law concerning homosexuality and in 2005 the country became the third in the world to legalise gay marriage. These big and fast changes for equality happened under the government of Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero. Zapatero was one of the main champions for LGBT Rights in Spain during his two-term of office (2004 – 2011).

The Euro Weekly News article, not surprising caused a firestorm of biblical proportions, and understandably so. People know the nationally-distributed free paper is not a fascist rag, so seeing Smith’s hateful article in it came as a shock to many, myself included, and our fury could barely be contained.

But I’m now willing to put this down to an unfortunate error of judgment by EWN and forgive and forget and move on. Life’s too short to allow venomous old fools to sour it.

• To its credit, Euro Weekly News published an abridged version of this article in its June 16 edition.