The Spanish bishops have voiced their opposition to a proposed law that would expand rights for transgender people, as well as increase penalties for anti-LGBTQ discrimination, all while hate crimes are on the rise in that country.
The proposed law would be “allowing people over 16 to change their gender in the civil register by a simple court declaration, without medical or legal measures, and imposing heavy fines for all discrimination,” according to Crux. But in a tweet the day after the legislation was introduced:
“Auxiliary Bishop Luis Argüello Garcia of Valladolid, secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, warned the proposed law, which has been protested by [trans-exclusionary] feminist groups, would ‘transform sentiment into a legal category and enthrone the will to power without limit.’
“Archbishop Francisco Martínez Fernández of Granada accused the measure’s promoters of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic, when public debate was restricted, and of showing ‘an immense lack of respect’ for the population.
“‘Whoever is born a man will always be a man, and whoever is born a woman will always be a woman, no matter which hormones they impose and operations they perform,’ the archbishop told Catholics in a July 4 homily.
“‘I’m not asking legislators, who are pagans, to follow Christian criteria when it comes to legislating, or even deep down to respect the human rights which are obvious to us. But if one thing characterizes the abandonment of Christian tradition, it is the collapse of reason, in a society now governed more by group interests and power relations.'”
At the same time as Spain’s bishops oppose LGBTQ protections, the nation is experiencing a rise in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. Thomson Reuters Foundation reported on the recent murder of Samuel Luiz, who was beaten to death by attackers shouting anti-gay slurs, as just one incident which has left LGBTQ Spaniards feeling more afraid:
“‘Many of the attacks we’re seeing now are in groups and in this case they’re more violent,’ said Marc Serra, a councillor in Barcelona.
“‘Citizens end up feeling scot-free and committing attacks in broad daylight and even in front of witnesses,’ he said, blaming the trend on the ‘normalisation of intolerant discourses’. . .
“But many believe homophobia and transphobia have grown stronger in the traditionally conservative Catholic nation with the growing popularity of the far-right Vox party, which is aligned with populist movements elsewhere in Europe.”
Being transgender is not merely a “sentiment,” as Bishop Argüello Garcia argues, nor is a gender transition causing a “collapse of reason,” as Archbishop Martínez Fernández claims. Their statements make clear that neither man has invested himself in learning about or dialoguing with trans people. The two bishops’ language is incendiary and inappropriate, and particularly so when a rash of hate crimes is afflicting Spain’s LGBTQ community, and right wing Catholics may be fueling this terrible trend. The bishops should use their platform to condemn anti-LGBTQ violence and the prejudiced attitudes which lead to it. If they cannot do that, however, it is best they remain silent instead.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 10, 2021