A controversial campaign from the Captial City Town Hall proclaiming “Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, One, great and free, free of prejudice, free of LGBTQIphobia, free of mortal sin, free of injustice and free of hate”. The motto of the new campaign, being used to commemorate this Saturday’s LGBTQIA+ Pride event, in Gran Canaria’s capital, has been clearly inspired by the words spoken by the Franco regime, and this has generated uproar on all sides of the debate.
The Councillor for Equality in the Capital’s Town Hall, María del Carmen Reyes (Nueva Canarias), explained this Monday on the Cadena Ser Radio station that this was, precisely, the intention of the video spot that has offended so many: “We have turned the sock inside out. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a city free from prejudice and the word “freedom” is not owned by anyone”, she has confirmed that the message was intentionally provocative and the idea of withdrawing it has not yet been considered, despite the many requests. Various groups have made their objections well known across social media, some describing the move as “ill advised” while other activists feel that may be a dire understatement.
Given the controversy caused by the fact that the City Council has used, and attempted to reclaim, a Francoist motto as inspiration for this year’s celebration of the longest running LGBTQIA+ Pride event on the island, the councillor defended herself stressing that the word “freedom” has been “manipulated” for years by people that actually “wanted to cut off all kinds of freedoms”, as happened during the dictatorship in Spain. The objective of this campaign is to show its “good sense” and “change” of use at a time when the word “freedom” is being heard again in speeches similar to some of those from political parties years ago.
Paula Núñez, from the Communist Party, representing institutional feminism in the Canary Islands, however, believes that the slogan and the campaign are “a real nonsense”. Although she has expressed that she recognises that this was not the intention, she has stated that “it is offensive and lacks taste and tact towards the LGBTQI community and towards historical memory.” Núñez denounced the campaign in a statement saying that, “far from promoting respect for diversity and tolerance, this failed attempt to re-appropriate fascist symbology shows a total lack of sensitivity and is an act frivolisation of repression”. She referred to “the brutality of the crimes during the dictatorship, as well as the persecution and detention in towns and working-class neighbourhoods of LGBTQI people, who were later imprisoned in places such as the infamous Tefía concentration camp.”
“It was mostly working-class homosexuals who were detained here, because the wealthy class bribed the judges and in the end they were not arrested. For this reason, the campaign so seems to us to absolutely lack taste, it is really appropriating a symbology of a dictatorship that tortured the LGBTQI community for many years”, Núñez recalled. For this reason, the Communist Party in the Canary Islands has demanded the withdrawal of the poster and the video spot posted online.
For her part, the City Councillor for Equality wanted to apologise to all those people who have felt offended, although she maintains that “the noise” around the motto “has been generated on one side”, there are many activists who “have directed us and they liked it”, she said.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: una, grande y libre🌈 pic.twitter.com/mnG7PPm0aO
— Igualdad y Diversidad LPGC (@igualdadlpgc) June 16, 2022