24-year-old nursing assistant Samuel Luiz was out with friends in the Galician city of A Coruña in the early hours of Saturday when an argument began outside a nightclub.
Samuel's friends told El Mundo that Luiz left the club to make a video call when two passersby accused him of trying to film them. Luiz clarified he was talking to a friend by video, but then he was attacked by one of the passersby and left with a badly bruised face.
Spain To Discuss Two Law Promoting LGTBI Rights
Five minutes later, the assailant returned with 12 other men who beat Luiz unconscious. After being taken to the hospital, Luiz died later Saturday morning.
On Tuesday evening, Spanish police informed three people had been arrested as “the alleged perpetrators of the violence assault that ended Samuel Luiz’s life."
The force said in a statement that the men are between 20 and 25 and live in A Coruña. Police stated the investigation remained open until all the facts had been clarified.
The hate crime prompted mass protests across Spain, leading to demonstrations on Monday night in cities including A Coruña, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Salamanca, Bilbao and Zaragoza. Demonstrators carried signs with slogans including “Your homophobia is killing us," and politicians in Madrid have asked the central government for explanations after some protesters in the capital were charged by riot police late on Monday.
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, denounced the killing, offering his condolences to Luiz’s friends and family. “I’m confident that the police investigation will soon find those who murdered Samuel and shed light on what happened,” he tweeted on Monday. “It was a savage and merciless act. We will not take a step backwards when it comes to rights and freedoms and Spain will not tolerate this.”
José Miñones, the Spanish government’s delegate in Galicia, said police were studying whether the attack was motivated by homophobia, adding that the investigation was at a crucial stage, as 15 people had given statements about what happened. “The [security] cameras are going to help us clarify what happened,” he told Radio Voz on Tuesday.
Protesters say the attack is proof of the violence LGBTI people still faceWe are being abused and murdered for being LGBTI,” the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals said in a statement on Twitter. “We will not rest.”
The federation assured that while events such as Pride make it easy to “celebrate diversity for one month a year, this will not stop until we are all 100% committed to it for ever”.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found in a study last year that 41% of those surveyed in Spain hadexperienced some form of harassment for being LGBTI in the last 12 months, while 32% of respondents Spain often or always avoided certain places or locations for fear of being assaulted, threatened or harassed due to their sexuality.