News December, 7th 2009 by

Imprisoned for sexual orientation


Antoni Ruiz, 50, has become the first Spaniard to receive official recognition of his suffering more than three decades after he was imprisoned for his sexual orientation.

An estimated 5,000 men served prison sentences during the dictatorship of Gen Franco when homosexuality was made illegal but Mr Ruiz was one of the few sentenced for the crime following the death of the dictator in November 1975.

In 1976, at the age of 17, Mr Ruiz, from Valencia, told family members that he was gay. At the time homosexuality was still banned and when his parents confided in a Catholic monk, he denounced their son to the authorities.

He was sentenced to three months in prison and was then banished from his home town for a further year.

Mr Ruiz, who heads an association for former prisoners, received a formal letter of apology from Spain’s justice minister last week and an offer of financial compensation amounting to 4,000 euros (£3,600).

He expressed satisfaction at the “symbolic gesture” and said it had been “a long time coming”.

The recognition was given under Spain’s Law of Historical Memory, which was introduced in 2007 with the aim of honouring the forgotten victims of the Spanish Civil war and ensuing 36-year fascist dictatorship.

The law banning homosexuality was overturned in 1979 following Spain’s transition to democracy and the nation has since become one of the most liberal in Europe.

Under the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero, Spain has legalised same-sex marriages and given homosexual couples the right to adopt to children. 

Simon Schönbeck

A serial entrepreneur and Founder of this very site.

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