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Gran Canaria mayor responds to fears that new rules and regulations could kill the gay scene

Gran Canaria mayor responds to fears that new rules and regulations could kill the gay scene

What will happen to Gran Canaria's gay scene?

Will new rules and regulations kill Gran Canaria’s gay scene? Well, it remains to be seen.

Marco Aurelio Pérez Sanchez, the mayor of Maspalomas – the municipality where the Yumbo Centre, the hub of LGBTI life on the Spanish island – has responded to petitions over the new regulations put in place to ensure bars and venues comply with EU regulations.

Under the rules, bars on the ground floor must remove tables from the shopping area of the street unless they have a specific permit. Venues must also close according to the license, which for the majority is 2.30am, compared to staying open until a lot later. Many feared bizarre rules like the height of sunshades and transparent windbreakers could cause undue stress to LGBTI bar and venue owners.

And if police are cracking down on people congregating in outdoor spaces, this could be fatal to the scene. Gran Canaria has a warm climate and many venues depend on outside space for entertainment.

In a statement, Sanchez claimed the new rules will ‘enhance’ the area as a LGBTI destination. He said the ‘project’ is to ‘give a boost to control the quality and safety of all events’.

The mayor claimed the contradictory reports online was ‘undermining’ the good work of the organizers.

Yumbo_Centre

He said: ‘In this regard, officers of the local police have developed an action plan to inform the business owners of the premises of the Yumbo Center, expressly telling them: “During the week from 18 to 24 April 2016 several actions will be taken at the Yumbo Center regarding occupation of terraces, controlling permissions of nightlife business´ and removing obstacles in front of fire hydrants. It is communicated to all premises on the ground floor which have terraces located on the public road within the Yumbo Center, that this is not allowed without the required municipal authorization.”

‘This measure has been adopted by the townhall for the sole purpose of leaving fire hydrants free from obstacles to guarantee access at all times and offer the maximum safety possible to the visitors of the event.’

But LGBTI rights activists are not convinced. For the first time in 15 years, the organization of Pride was taken away from the island’s main LGBTI rights organization GLAY and instead given to a new group, the Freedom Association.

GLAY are still urging officials to give businesses a reasonable time to adjust to new legislative conditions or apply for a new permit that is more applicable to their business model or venue.

It appears officials will sit down with bar owners after Pride to discuss the legislation.

‘We’re happy that people feel involved in the community,’ André Wanrooij, the head of GLAY, told Gay Star News. ‘We have a very special situation, unique in the world, as this island is a mini-continent of cultures. This community needs to be preserved and maintained. It’s important we can create a dialogue with the governmental bodies to find a solution to the problems regarding sound and health and opening permits and all these bureaucratic issues need to be resolved.’

A petition, signed by many LGBTI venue and bar owners in Gran Canaria, has been signed by more than 5,000 people.