The conservative Mayor of Madrid has been accused of trying to shut down Europe’s largest LGBTI pride event after the organizers of the Madrid Pride Week were slugged with noise code violation fines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Ana Botella, the wife of former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, passed a new public noise code in 2011 under which the event has been fined four years in a row, forcing organizers of the annual event to go to court to try to have them dismissed.
Fines in previous years were around €35,000 to €50,000 in value but this year the city fined organizers €159,809.
One of the previous fines was reduced by a court to just €600 but the other fines are still to be decided in court and this new subsequent fine is likely to take over a year to be decided.
Organizers fear that if such large fines against the event continue it’s future will be in jeopardy.
‘You can't levy such barbaric fines on an event that's so important to the city,’ Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales president Boti Rodrigo told The Guardian.
‘These fines put the survival of Madrid Pride in serious jeopardy.’
‘We've never seen city hall so short-sighted, with such little political will towards us … They need to stop trying put obstacles in the way of the event.’
Organizers estimate the event brings 1.5 million travelers to the city each year, bringing with them millions of euros.
‘The city of Madrid, under Ana Botella, is a city that's losing visitors, losing liberties and become more closed-minded,’ Rodrigo said.
Botella’s Spanish People’s Party, today considered a center-right party, grew out of a party founded by Manuel Fraga Iribarne - a former Minister of the Interior and Minister of Tourism during the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.