Spain is considering financially compensating gay men who suffered years of abuse due to their sexual orientation.
The Washington Times reports that men like Antoni Ruiz, who was imprisoned after revealing he was gay, may soon be awarded a one-time payment of nearly $16,000 and receive a monthly pension.
“I spent three months in prison,” Ruiz said of the abuse he suffered due to his sexual orientation, reports the Times. “I was raped there and in the police cells and psychologically tortured by both the guards and the prison doctor.”
In order to garner compensation for himself and others like him who suffered through abuse and were unable to work during dictator Francisco Franco’s rule, Ruiz became president of the Association of Ex-Social Prisoners, The Independent said.
The Times reports that Ruiz said the possible approval of the compensation, that would include a pension of more than $1,000 a month, could mark an official recognition of the atrocities.
“This is not just about economic compensation but remembering homosexuals who suffered under unjust and dictatorial laws,” he said, reports the Times.
During Franco’s homophobic dictatorship, gays were jailed or locked up in sinister mental institutions known as “correction camps”. With echoes of the Nazi atrocities against gays, they were given electric shocks in the belief that this would rid them of their homosexual urges. Inmates were forced to watch pornographic films featuring women in an effort to show them a sex life that was deemed “natural” by the conservative authorities.
As part of their nationalist, Catholic ideals, the Franco regime and its Falangist supporters considered homosexuals a threat to the “macho” Spanish male.
General Queipo del Llano, who broadcast to the nation, once said: “Any effeminate or introvert who insults the movement will be killed like a dog.”
The most famous gay man killed by the regime was the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who wrote Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba. Considered a subversive, he was executed by a Nationalist firing squad in Granada in 1936.
Homosexuality was designated as an offence under the “law against delinquency and criminals” introduced in 1954. But towards the end of Franco’s regime, it was increasingly viewed as an illness rather than a crime. According to the Independent, in 1968, the psychologist Lopez Ibor said: “Homosexuals should be seen more as sick people than as criminals. But the law should still prevent them proselytising in schools, sports clubs and army barracks.” Jail terms of up to three years were imposed under laws covering “public scandal” or “social danger”.