Spain compensates gay man jailed during dictatorship

6th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

A gay man who suffered repression during Franco dictatorship and was jailed 94 days is the first gay prisoner to receive a compensation of EUR 4,000.

MADRID – The Spanish government has paid a gay man who spent 94 days in jail during the right-wing Franco dictatorship EUR 4,000 in compensation in the first-ever such move, a gay rights association and reports said Tuesday.

"Antoni Ruiz has become the first gay man who suffered repression under Franco's dictatorship to have his right to compensation for the time spent in jail because of his sexual orientation recognised," the Association of Former Gay and Transsexual Prisoners said in a statement.

It said the payment was made by the compensation commission of former gay prisoners, a unit of the economy ministry.

In past media interviews Ruiz said he was raped during his time in jail in the dying days of the regime of General Francisco Franco and was psychologically tortured by both the guards and the prison doctor.

Historians estimate between 1,000 and 5,000 gays were jailed in Spain between 1939 and 1979 when homosexuality was finally decriminalised four years after Franco's death and the end of the regime.

Gays were jailed or locked up in sinister mental institutions known as "correction camps" where they were given electric shocks in the belief that this would rid them of their homosexuality.

After their release many were prevented from working because of their "criminal" records, meaning they could never contribute enough money to receive more than the minimum pension.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government formally recognised homosexuals as being amongst the victims of Franco's regime in 2007 and the following year it passed a law allowing for the payment of compensation to those who were jailed because of their sexual orientation.

Compensation was fixed at EUR 4,000 for men who were imprisoned for between one to six months, EUR 8,000 for those who spent between six months and three years behind bars and EUR 12,010.12 for those who spent over three years in jail.

Since Franco's death Spain has become a world leader in gay rights.

Zapatero's government legalised same-sex weddings and gay adoption in 2005, against opposition from the conservative opposition and the Roman Catholic Church.

AFP / Expatica

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